Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has welcomed the move by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to nominate him as its prime ministerial candidate in the next election, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Tuesday.
Emerging from the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the spokesman told a press conference that Gen Prayut responded positively to the PPRP's decision to name him as a potential prime ministerial candidate in the next poll.
"The prime minister welcomed the gesture and thanked the PPRP for placing its trust in him, [but] it's up to the people what they make of the next election," the spokesman said.
On Sept 30, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, in his capacity as leader of the PPRP, told party members that the PPRP would definitely put forth Gen Prayut's name as a PM candidate in the next election, which is expected to take place sometime next year.
With the PPRP's nomination in hand, Gen Prayut looks set to seek another term as premier.
The spokesman went on to say that Gen Prayut has asked Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is a legal expert, to make sure that his nomination does not go against the constitution and/or other organic laws -- in a reference to the recent confusion surrounding the end of Gen Prayut's tenure as PM.
The opposition and some academics are insisting that his term will end in August next year, as the constitution bars anyone from serving as premier for more than two four-year terms -- regardless of whether the terms were served back-to-back or not.
They maintained Gen Prayut's time as prime minister began in 2014, as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order, which seized power in a coup.
Some have argued that Gen Prayut's premiership began in 2017 -- when the present constitution was promulgated -- while others say his term didn't begin until 2019, when he was actually sworn in as prime minister.
The issue is fiercely debated as it serves as an indicator of when the next poll will be held.
Mr Thanakorn also said Gen Prayut has ruled out a cabinet reshuffle in the near future, adding the prime minister has stressed that the coalition is still a working unit.
Gen Prayut's remark came as he tried to pre-empt a potential rift between the PPRP and its coalition partner the Democrat Party, by rescinding an order delegating the supervision of four departments under the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to Gen Prawit, a move which irked the Democrats.
The order was cancelled on Tuesday, barely a day after it was issued, effectively reverting the supervision of the four departments to the Democrats.
The four agencies -- the Department of Land Development, the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, the Office of the Agricultural Land Reform and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers -- were previously under the control of former deputy agriculture minister, Capt Thamanat Prompow, who is the PPRP secretary-general.
The ministry, in turn, falls under the supervision of Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Laksanawisit who leads the Democrat Party.
After Capt Thamanat was dismissed as deputy minister, the departments were expected to be returned to Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, who doubles as Democrat secretary-general, to be redistributed to other deputies.
Gen Prawit reportedly insisted the departments were the PPRP's to oversee.
Following that, Mr Jurin vented his frustration at what he felt was a power grab in his ministry during a media interview.
It was said Gen Prawit held on to the departments so Capt Thamanat could still control them through him as a proxy.
A source in the PPRP said Gen Prawit wanted Capt Thamanat to continue his active role in handling the agencies despite no longer being a deputy agriculture minister.
Gen Prawit is said to be keen on seeing Capt Thamanat and Narumon Pinyosinwat, the PPRP treasurer who was earlier removed as deputy labour minister along with Capt Thamanat, stay in the party to help with the next election.
Meanwhile, a source said that prior to the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Gen Prayut, Gen Prawit, Mr Wissanu and Mr Jurin met to clear the air.