PM denies rift with Prawit

PM denies rift with Prawit

Prayut rejects rumour he will be PPRP party boss

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, right, walks with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, right, walks with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has rejected rumours of a rift between himself and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon following the exit of Capt Thamanat Prompow and Narumon Pinyosinwat from the cabinet.

Speaking to the press at Government House on Monday, Gen Prayut made a firm guarantee that his relationship with Gen Prawit, also deputy prime minister, was solid.

"I can assure you that between us there is no need to clear the air. There is no problem with our work. Everything should be by the rules and be in line with the democratic system," Gen Prayut said. "I do what falls under my authority as the prime minister. And there isn't a time we don't understand each other."

Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon were known to be close to Gen Prawit who was reportedly kept in the dark about the pair's sackings from the ministerial posts until they were made official.

Capt Thamanat stands accused of masterminding a campaign to oust Gen Prayut during the recent censure debate almost two weeks ago. The plot allegedly involved a number of PPRP heavyweights and renegade members of micro-coalition partners and politicians in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.

Gen Prayut rejected speculation he would take the helm at the PPRP with some analysts convinced that he could be soon moving to assert his authority in the ruling party.

"I never think that far. Spare me the question. It's no good [addressing the question] at this point. I'm doing my best now," he said.

Gen Prayut also said he was preparing to make visits to the provinces now that the Covid-19 situation was easing while noting that it should not be seen as a signal for fresh polls.

The prime minister appeared keen to put to rest talks about tensions between him and Gen Prawit.

When arriving for a meeting of the national land policy committee at Government House in the late afternoon on Monday, he greeted Gen Prawit with a wai. The pair talked for a few minutes and seemed in good spirits.

After addressing the press, Gen Prayut was seen walking along with Gen Prawit to his car.

It was their first meeting following the dismissal of Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon last week amid rumours of tensions between the three brothers-in-arms boiling over. Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda joined the meeting via video conference.

Gen Prawit shook his head when asked about a rumour that Capt Thamanat resigned as the PPRP secretary-general. He said the question should be directed at Capt Thamanat.

The PPRP leader also asked reporters to stop asking about the alleged rift between him, Gen Prayut and Gen Anupong and insisted that he did not feel hurt and that he would not step down from the PPRP top post.

"I've talked to them. There is no conflict, no rift, no hurt feelings. And I don't quit," he said.

Meanwhile, Anucha Burapachaisri, the prime minister's deputy secretary-general, on Monday attended a meeting of government whips in what was seen as the premier's efforts to work closely with MPs.

Gen Prayut reportedly agreed to close the distance between himself and the PPRP MPs after the alleged plot to oust him from the post was thwarted.

Mr Anucha said his job would allow the prime minister to hear the MP's concerns and proposals first hand, saying he would attend every government whip meeting and report directly to the prime minister.

Monday's meeting involved the coalition partners' plan to sponsor a draft law on the new election system after parliament last week endorsed a charter amendment bill that sought to bring back the two-ballot voting system.

In a related development, the main opposition Pheu Thai Party's ethics committee Monday resolved to expel two party MPs for failing to respect party rules.

Prasert Chantararuangthong, the party's secretary-general, said that the MPs facing the expulsion are Uttaradit MP Saranwut Saranket and Pathum Thani MP Pornpimol Thammasan.

Mr Prasert said Mr Saranwut spoke ill of the party while Ms Pornpimol barely took part in party activities and often cast her vote against the party's stance.

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