Prayut vows not to cling to power
Prayut to serve 'as long as law allows'
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday said he will serve in the role as long as he is allowed to by law, adding that the next general election will be held after the two organic laws related to elections clear parliament.
Asked by reporters about him having served as prime minister for almost eight years, Gen Prayut said that it was all about the law.
"I will stay on as long as the law allows. I am bound by the law, and cannot do anything at will," the prime minister said.
"I have no intention of keeping the post of prime minister for myself forever. Don't worry that I will cling on to power. I have had no vested interests during the past seven or eight years," Gen Prayut said.
However, when asked if he will serve as prime minister for another term, Gen Prayut remained coy, suggesting that: "It depends on the situation in the future."
Commenting on the frequent absence of MPs that has resulted in the lack of a quorum and collapse of a number of parliamentary meetings, Gen Prayut urged members of the House to push through two key election laws -- the Political Parties Act and the Election of MPs Act -- without delay.
"No progress will be made if the sessions continue to collapse like this. If you want the election, you must pass the two organic laws, which in turn requires you to attend parliament sessions. The sessions must not collapse,'' Gen Prayut said.
The amendments to the two organic laws are intended to reflect constitutional changes in the election system. The push to restore the two-ballot electoral system was royally endorsed and published in the Royal Gazette on Nov 21.
Under the changes, the number of constituency MPs would be increased from 350 to 400 while the number of list MPs would decrease from 150 to 100.
Two ballots will be used in future polls, one for choosing a constituency MP and the other a list MP, marking a departure from the single-ballot method used in the 2019 general election.
To include the changes in the charter, the two organic laws governing the election of MPs and political parties will have to be amended.
The process of amendment is ongoing.
Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, a Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat who serves as a deputy chief government whip, said that a public hearing on the proposed amendments concluded on Thursday.
The public hearing was organised by the Election Commission as required by the constitution.
The bills will be forwarded to the parliament president who will put them on the agenda, with a parliament meeting expected in the last week of this month to deliberate the bills, Mr Chinnaworn said.
He suggested that there would be no lack of quorum at this meeting as senators will also be in attendance.
According to the parliamentary calendar, the opposition parties will hold a motionless debate to scrutinise the government on Feb 17-18, while a parliamentary meeting will be held late this month to consider whether to accept the drafts of the two organic laws in the first reading.
Parliament will go into recess on Feb 28 and then reconvene in May for a four-month session, during which the opposition is expected to table its final no-confidence motion against the government before the end of its tenure in March next year.
Under the constitution, once the motion is accepted, the prime minister cannot dissolve the House.
Parliament will also deliberate and vote on the two bills in the second and third readings between May and July.
If the bills are passed by parliament, they will then be forwarded for review by independent organisations.
If any of the agencies have any doubts about the constitutionality and feasibility of the drafts, parliament must review the draft and address them within 30 days.
Afterwards, the prime minister will submit the drafts for royal endorsement, with the process expected to be wrapped up in July.