Prawit reveals reshuffle plan
PM set to consider cabinet nominations
Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) Prawit Wongsuwon said he has submitted nominations of candidates for cabinet posts to the prime minister for consideration.
Gen Prawit said he has named two candidates for ministerial posts under the party's quota, a reference to the vacancies for education minister and digital economy and society (DES) minister.
The posts were left vacant after Nataphol Teepsuwan, the former education miniser, and Buddhipongse Punnakanta, the former DES minister, were removed from office as a result of their convictions related to their leading roles in 2014, in anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee activities.
The source said Mr Nataphol will likely be replaced by Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, a party list MP, and Mr Buddhipongse by Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome.
The shift will involve Mr Itthiphol freeing up the culture portfolio with Trinuch Thienthong, the PPRP MP for Sa Kaeo, likely succeeding him as culture minister, according to the source.
The possible cabinet changes have prompted intense speculation among party members.
Apart from Mr Buddhipongse and Mr Nataphol, Thaworn Senneam, the Democrat Party MP, lost his post as deputy transport minister over his conviction in the PDRC case.
The trio were among 26 people convicted by the Criminal Court over their roles in the PDRC protests which culminated in the May 2014 coup.
Gen Prayut said on Wednesday that he has the power to decide on candidates nominated by coalition parties to fill the vacancies. "There should not be any problem. Wait and see. It won't be long,'' he said.
Asked whether he would be upset if he got the chop in the cabinet shake-up, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, who is the PPRP's deputy leader, said he would leave the matter to be decided by the prime minister.
Mr Suchart, Mr Nataphool and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit received the least backing when MPs voted at the end of the four-day censure debate on Feb 20.
Ramate Rattanachawent, spokesman for the coalition Democrats, said that after the by-election in Nakhon Si Thammarat Constituency 3 scheduled for Sunday, a meeting of party executives and MPs would be held to choose the candidate to fill the cabinet post left vacant by Mr Thaworn.
The by-election is to be held because the Constitutional Court in January stripped Thepthai Senpong, a Democrat, of his MP status.