Prawit denies bid to control Setthakij Thai
Pheu Thai warns against interference
Deputy Prime Minister and ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon has denied trying to wield influence over the Setthakij Thai Party by putting the brakes on a plan by its secretary-general, Capt Thamanat Prompow, to have dinner with the opposition Pheu Thai Party.
Gen Prawit was responding to deputy Pheu Thai leader Yuttapong Charasathien, who accused him of trying to dominate Setthakij Thai, which could lead to the dissolution of the PPRP under the law on political parties.
Gen Prawit insisted he did not order Capt Thamanat to miss the dinner planned for May 23.
On Tuesday, Gen Prawit said he spoke to Capt Thamanat and persuaded him to focus his energy on working for the benefit of the public. Gen Prawit said later that Capt Thamanat would not attend the meeting with Pheu Thai.
Mr Yuttapong said earlier that Capt Thamanat had accepted an invitation to meet Pheu Thai and several smaller parties for a meal that evening.
According to observers, the meeting was arranged to discuss a plot to unseat Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during the no-confidence debate expected in late June or early July.
Setthakij Thai is home to 18 MPs, including Capt Thamanat, previously expelled by the PPRP for acting as renegades.
Yet Capt Thamanat remains steadfast in his loyalty to Gen Prawit, even though he was accused of being the mastermind of last year's censure debate revolt against Gen Prayut. At the time, Capt Thamanat served as the PPRP secretary-general and was seen as Gen Prawit's right-hand man.
Mr Yuttapong said on Wednesday he had not yet received confirmation from Capt Thamanat that he would skip the dinner.
"If he [Capt Thamanat] won't come, he must say it himself. Why should Gen Prawit get involved with Capt Thamanat having dinner with a deputy Pheu Thai leader? How could Gen Prawit speak on Capt Thamanat's behalf?
"This may amount to an act of dominating Setthakij Thai, which could lead to the dissolution [of the ruling party]," Mr Yuttapong said.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, who is PPRP director, on Wednesday leapt to the defence of Gen Prawit, saying the PPRP boss was not trying to dominate the affairs of Setthakij Thai.