Prawit counts on 'minnows' to back him
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has expressed confidence that small political parties will support the government in the upcoming no-confidence debate.
Quizzed on which way they would sway in terms of supporting other cabinet misters targeted in the censure motion, Gen Prawit, who also serves as leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said: "They are on the government's side. There is no problem with that."
And when grilled on whether the Setthakij Thai Party would protect him against attacks from the opposition, the deputy PM said the party is still a member of the coalition and would not turn against censured ministers.
Setthakij Thai is home to 18 MPs, including its leader Capt Thamanat Prompow, who were all 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 Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. At the time, Capt Thamanat served as the PPRP's secretary-general and was seen as Gen Prawit's right-hand man.
Setthakij Thai is seen as a key player in the no-confidence vote as Capt Thamanat has made it clear he will not support Gen Prayut.
On June 15, the opposition formally filed a motion of no-confidence against the PM and 10 other cabinet ministers including Gen Prawit.
The motion for the censure debate was submitted to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai by core members of the opposition led by Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the Pheu Thai Party.
Dr Cholnan said he expected the debate to last five days, probably from July 18-22. It will be the last censure debate the opposition can initiate before the government's tenure expires next March.
Officially the opposition has 208 MPs within its ranks, while the government can command 230-240 votes.
Currently, there are 477 MPs. The opposition needs more than half of the votes, or 239, if it is to defeat the government in the no-confidence vote.