PM rules out early election

PM rules out early election

PPRP purge will lead to 'uncertainty'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha holds a media briefing after a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration at Government House on Thursday. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha holds a media briefing after a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration at Government House on Thursday. (Government House photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday he has no plan to reshuffle the cabinet or call snap elections following the ouster of renegade MPs from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

The premier also distanced himself from the party's decision on Wednesday night to expel secretary-general Thamanat Prompow and 20 other MPs loyal to him for causing division in the party.

Gen Prayut said the expulsion was an internal PPRP affair, adding he believed the party was trying to restore a sense of normalcy as much as possible.

"I'm not saying who is good or bad. Let their actions speak for themselves. The people will decide at the next election. I insist that I have no intention to change the cabinet line-up or dissolve the House. The law [on the new election system] isn't ready. Don't mix them up," he said.

When asked if Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon had any message, he said: "Love and best wishes and mutual respect."

The ouster of Capt Thamanat and 20 other MPs, who have 30 days to find a new party or lose their MP status, came months after Capt Thamanat was sacked from the cabinet for engineering a plot to unseat Gen Prayut in last year's no-confidence debate. Capt Thamanat's move upset party members and has left an open sore in the ruling party ever since.

Meanwhile, eight small coalition parties are considering forming an alliance with Capt Thamanat's faction, media report say. Thai Civilized Party leader Mongkolkit Suksintharanon is among those expected to join.

Suratin Picharn, list MP and leader of the small coalition New Democracy Party (NDP), said some small parties are discussing the possibility of joining hands with Capt Thamanat, but no decision had been made. "Things should become clear next week. I have to wait for him to get a new party first," he said.

Khathathep Techadechruangkul, list MP and leader of the small coalition Puea Chart Thai Party, denied reports that his party would join Capt Thamanat's group, saying five parties are sticking with the coalition and will continue to support Gen Prayut.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam admitted the government faces uncertainty but said dissolving the House and calling a snap election is not a solution. Without Capt Thamanat's group, the coalition government is left with a slim majority of 254 votes, and this could pose a challenge when key legislation including the budget bill are up for deliberation.

PPRP deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan said on Thursday Capt Thamanat's group called for party restructuring that was found to be unacceptable by the party executive committee. The committee felt their position would affect the party's unity and stability and decided to expel them.

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