PM rejects cabinet revamp talk
No plans to dissolve House early, he says
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday denied rumours regarding a cabinet reshuffle and a House dissolution, saying that he intended to stay on until the government completes its four-year term in 2023.
"Such thoughts have not crossed my mind. Whoever spoke about it should be careful, regardless of their aim to stir unrest during the no-confidence debate or whatever," Gen Prayut said.
He made the remarks as the government faced a grilling from the opposition during the four-day no-confidence debate which started on Tuesday, with the votes to be cast on Saturday.
The debate targets the PM and five cabinet ministers, namely Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and public health minister; Saksayam Chidchob, transport minister; Chalermchai Sri-on, agriculture and cooperatives minister; Suchart Chomklin, labour minister; and Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, digital economy and society minister.
Gen Prayut's comments also come as the coalition government is rocked by rumours that efforts are being made to vote against and unseat the prime minister at the no-confidence debate.
He said on Wednesday that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, also the leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), had reassured him that he has cleared the air within the ruling party and there were no problems.
Previously, Gen Prayut admitted he asked Gen Prawit via a Line chat about a rumour that MPs from some coalition parties were plotting to vote against him at the no-confidence debate and pressure him to reshuffle the cabinet.
In light of this, during a meeting at the Five Provinces Bordering Forests Preservation Foundation on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Monday, Gen Prawit read out a message from Gen Prayut to MPs and cabinet ministers from the PPRP who were present at the meeting, according to sources at the meeting.
"Why do the MPs not support me? What are their reasons?" the PM's message, as relayed by Gen Prawit said.
Gen Prawit stressed the need for party MPs to vote for all six cabinet ministers, including the PM, after the no-confidence debate, the sources said.
Gen Prayut said on Wednesday that he had heard about various rumours; one being about the move to gather support among MPs to vote against him at the no-confidence debate. Gen Prawit, he said, had pledged to look into the matter.
"If that is true, this is ungentlemanly. This is no time for such things. Another rumour is that I will dissolve the House and everyone panics. I insist this is not true," Gen Prayut said.
"There will be no House dissolution. We are working hard to tackle important issues. There is no reason why I should dissolve the House," he said.
Asked to comment on a report that some PPRP MPs are trying to reclaim the Interior Ministry post held by Gen Anupong Paojinda, Gen Prayut said: "Is such a move in the country's best interests?"
Gen Prayut also insisted that he will stay on until the coalition government completes its term. "I told leaders of the coalition parties that we have to stick together at the moment," he said.
Asked by reporters if he had met with small coalition parties for talks, Gen Prayut said he did not speak directly to them, though they had been in contact with leaders of the major coalition parties.
The prime minister said he has appreciated the support of small parties and he has attached great importance to them.
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister and PPRP secretary-general Thamanat Prompow on Wednesday dismissed a rumour that he was involved in a move to lobby coalition MPs to vote against the prime minister at the no-confidence debate.
"Those who started and spread the rumour are not in the opposition, but in the government's coalition parties," Capt Thamanat said.
Gen Prayut said he would not hold talks with Capt Thamanat when asked by reporters about the rumour.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the government's legal adviser, said on Wednesday that in the event of "a political accident" such as the PM failing to get enough votes as required for the legal threshold, Gen Prayut would then have to relinquish office and the government would come to an end.