Setthakij Thai targets 100 House seats
Wit confident as new party leader
Gen Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya, the newly elected leader of the Setthakij Thai Party, has set his sights on securing at least 100 House seats in the next general election.
He made the remark after the party's general assembly to elect a 22-member executive board on Friday.
The party is the new home of 18 former MPs of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) including Capt Thamanat Prompow. They were expelled from the ruling party for demanding changes to the party's executive line-up, causing the government's majority in parliament to diminish.
Capt Thamanat, formerly secretary-general of the PPRP, was elected Setthakij Thai's secretary-general while his wife Thanaporn Sriwiraj was named party treasurer.
Other newly elected executives include Wichit Plangsrisakul, a former MP of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party and a former lawyer of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and Prai Phattano, a former Democrat Party MP.
Gen Wit, formerly the chairman of the PPRP's strategic committee, remained non-committal over whether the party would support the government, but said it has the country's best interests at heart.
Asked why he decided to part ways with the PPRP, Gen Wit, known to be a close aide of Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon, said he still respects Gen Prawit as a brother in arms.
"We have been on good terms for decades. He is like my brother. Setthakij Thai remains an ally which will continue to work with Gen Prawit," Gen Wit said.
He said he would be able to bring Capt Thamanat and other MPs in line. "I promise to steer Setthakij Thai in the right direction and make it a political institution the people can rely on," he said.
He insisted the party would be on the people's side and that it is ready to support the government if it also acts in the people's best interests.
Asked who would be nominated as the party's prime ministerial candidate for the next election, Gen Wit said it was too early to discuss the matter at this stage.
Rifts between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Capt Thamanat emerged after media reported late last year that the latter was behind a move to oust Gen Prayut during the no-confidence vote in September.
Despite Capt Thamanat denying the accusation, Gen Prayut promptly sacked the then-deputy minister for agriculture and cooperatives.