The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has resolved to nominate Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime ministerial candidate in the next general election, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon insisted on Wednesday.
The confirmation by Gen Prawit, who made the comments in his capacity as leader of the party, came after several parties have in the past week come out to nominate either their leaders or other figures to contest the race.
Speculation is rife that the poll could take place next year as the government is not expected to complete a full four-term to 2023.
However, Gen Prawit stopped short of confirming whether the incumbent premier would continue to apply for membership of the party, or shift allegiances.
"It's over now," he said, referring to the PPRP's choice of candidate.
"You will have to ask the prime minister himself whether he plans to still apply to be a member of the PPRP or not."
Asked why the PPRP did not nominate him instead, the 76-year-old said his physical condition was a factor.
Regarding scepticism as to whether Gen Prayut's tenure as prime minister will actually end, Gen Prawit said it is the duty of the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana previously said Gen Prayut has asked Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, a legal expert, to make sure his nomination does not go against the constitution or any other organic laws.
The opposition and some academics are insisting that his term must end next August at the latest, as the constitution bars anyone from serving as premier for more than two four-year terms -- regardless of whether the terms were served consecutively or not.
They maintain that Gen Prayut's time as prime minister began in 2014, as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which seized power in a coup.
Yet some argue his premiership really began in 2017 -- when the present constitution was promulgated -- while others claim he did not officially assume office until 2019, when he was sworn in as premier.
And despite rumours about a rift between Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit, the latter said on Wednesday there is no conflict between them.
The ruling party is united and in unanimous agreement on all important matters, he added.
Gen Prawit refused to comment on the departure of Col Suchart Jantarachotikul, the former chief political strategist for the PPRP's southern region, who has broken away to form a new political party.
Meanwhile, Pita Limcharoenrat, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP), has vowed to represent his party at the next election.
He said he had travelled over 2,000 kilometres in recent weeks to hear people's expectations of the next government, adding this would help form the party's policies.
He also expects the government to call it quits no later than next year.
The ruling party typically dissolves the House when its popularity is high to gain an advantage over rivals in the race for parliamentary seats, said MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon.
This coalition government, however, may soon have to dissolve parliament and call a new election as conflicts among the coalition partners are intensifying, he said.
In other news, Win Suteerachai, list MP of the MFP, revealed his decision to resign on Wednesday via his Facebook page, saying he would rather focus on helping the public and pursuing his own political ideology.
But one source said this was misleading. He aims to found a new party named Ruam Thai United and would make an announcement before the media today.