Thamanat moves to take over Settakij Thai Party

Thamanat moves to take over Settakij Thai Party

Majority of party board resigns, forces election for new leader

Ousted leader Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya, left, with Thamanat Prompow at the general meeting of the  Settakij Thai Party in March. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Ousted leader Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya, left, with Thamanat Prompow at the general meeting of the Settakij Thai Party in March. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

A 15 member faction led by secretary-general Thamanat Prompow resigned from the Settakij Thai Party board on Tuesday, immediately after Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya insisted he would remain on as party leader.

Only minutes earlier, Gen Wit had confirmed that he remained party leader and would reach a compromise with Mr Thamanat on the issue of support for the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Rumours had been flying about a split between Gen Wit and Mr Thamanat, who does not support the Prayut government.

Gen Wit said he had no intention of resigning the party leadership

"They are quite different issues. I understand the standpoint of Capt Thamanat. I told him I would support [him] on positive issues," Gen Wit said.

He said he would remain as the party leader who understands the people who were willing to contribute to the party, he said.

Boonsing Warinrat, an executive member and registrar of the party, said the 15 dissidents had already filed their resignation letters, effective immediately, and reported their decision to the Election Commission. He was among the 15.

With the resignation of a majority of the board's members, the whole board was automatically dissolved, said Mr Boonsing, a party list MP.

The party would have to call a general meeting for the selection of new executive board within 45 days. The last general meeting was only two months ago, in March.

The dissolution of the board also means that Gen Wit is automatically removed as party leader. The 15 executives who resigned are members of Mr Thamanat’s group, he said.

“The new executive board will be united… Anyone who had a problem should have discussed it internally instead of talking outside the party,” Mr Boonsing said.

Gen Wit later said that he was surprised by the resignations, but the move from Mr Thamanat was not completely unexpected. With the resignations, their relationship was terminated and he would not return to politics, Gen Wit said.

He was a member of Class 11 at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School and Mr Thamanat was of Class 25.

Sources said Mr Thamanat refused to support the government, even though Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon earlier said the Settakij Thai Party supported the government.

Gen Prawit is the leader of the coalition-core Palang Pracharath Party which ousted Mr Thamanat's faction in January following allegations Mr Thamanat had tried to topple Gen Prayut in last year's no-confidence debate. Mr Thamanat denied the allegation.

A source said that Mr Thamanat was again planning to topple Gen Prayut from the prime ministership. While Gen Prawit confirmed his support for Gen Prayut’s premiership for this tenure, he had not decided if that support would continue afterwards.

Both Gen Wit and Mr Thamanat were reportedly close to Gen Prawit, who recently put a halt to plans by Mr Thamanat to have dinner with the opposition-core Pheu Thai Party.

Sources said Mr Thamanat had earlier wanted to be the party leader, but bowed to Gen Prawit's choice of Gen Wit as his proxy.

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