Prawit quells poll selection fears

Prawit quells poll selection fears

Says MP candidate choices rest with him

Ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon (Government House photo)
Ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon (Government House photo)

Ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon has insisted the final decision on who to field as party candidates in the next general election rests with him.

Gen Prawit, who is also deputy prime minister, was moving to dispel concerns from some PPRP constituency MPs that the power to select candidates would rest in the hands of disgraced party secretary-general Capt Thamanat Prompow. The concerns grew after Capt Thamanat fell from grace and was fired as deputy agriculture minister by the prime minister.

Some party MPs feared the selection of candidates might not be fair if the power to finalise the candidate list was centralised to just him.

The issue was raised as lawmakers are visiting their constituencies more regularly in anticipation of a general election sometime next year.

Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, beset by political pressure from the ongoing pandemic, anti-government protests and the PPRP's internal conflicts, might opt to dissolve the House and call an election at the most opportune time next year.

On Tuesday, Gen Prawit denied Capt Thamanat had the sole authority to choose candidates for the election.

"I will be looking at the selection list and it is up to me who makes the cut for MP candidates," the PPRP leader said.

Gen Prawit added he was confident in his ability to resolve all key problems facing the party. "Otherwise, why would I be the party leader?" he said.

He was responding to growing internal displeasure against his adviser, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, being groomed as a potential prime ministerial candidate.

Some PPRP politicians have resisted the idea of Mr Pirapan being nominated as a back-up candidate in the event that Gen Prayut, who has already secured the party's backing for the coming election, hits a legal dead-end and cannot return as premier.

The constitution imposes a cap of eight years in office but the details of Gen Prayut's tenure have been subject to much debate.

Gen Prawit said on Tuesday there was no need for Mr Pirapan to break ranks with other party members.

On Monday, Sira Jenjaka, a PPRP MP for Bangkok, questioned Mr Pirapan's suitability for the role of PM.

He compared Mr Pirapan to a novice monk who requires more time to rise through the ranks and prove his worth before getting the coveted nomination. Mr Pirapan, who formerly served as justice minister, quit the Democrat Party in December 2019.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said party members were entitled to their own opinions but that the decision on who should be nominated would rest with the party leader.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Gen Prayut has no plans to dissolve the House in the foreseeable future as the government is battling myriad problems including widespread Covid-19 infections and floods.

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