PM won't turn back on PPRP
Prayut dismisses talk of joining new party
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has provided assurances that he will not turn his back on the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and is actually considering applying for party membership.
The prime minister brushed aside speculation that the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party would approach him to join it and will nominate him as its candidate for prime minister in the next election.
Gen Prayut was speaking to reporters at Government House on Tuesday after his adviser Pirapan Salirathavibhaga met him on Friday and provided an update on his assignments.
"We did not discuss politics. The party to which he belongs to does not need to seek any advice from me," Gen Prayut said.
Asked about speculation that the party would nominate him as its candidate for prime minister in the next election, Gen Prayut said: "Well, the party has its own policies. I have nothing to do with it. It is just another emerging party.
"I only expect all parties to work together for the sake of the country's peace and prosperity. I offer my moral support to every party," he said.
Gen Prayut also denied a report that he was involved in naming the party, saying he used the term "Ruam Thai Sang Chart" (Uniting Thais to Build the Nation) on previous occasions as he urged people to join forces to strengthen and move the country forward.
"And they used the term to name their party. I didn't tell them to do so and I am not its leader," Gen Prayut said.
Asked by reporters whether he will decide to defect to other parties, Gen Prayut said: "I still stay with the PPRP, don't I? Where do you want me to go? The party supported me to become prime minister, didn't it?"
Asked again if he will still remain with the PPRP in the next election, Gen Prayut said: "I still stick by my word."
He declined to comment when asked about the possibility that he may become the PPRP's leader in the future but said he was considering whether to apply for party membership.
Gen Prayut also reiterated that any cabinet reshuffle will not happen.
Ruam Thai Sang Chart was founded by Seksakol Atthawong, a former aide to the prime minister, to back Gen Prayut's return as premier if he wishes to do so.
It gained public attention early last year after claims surfaced that it was set up as an alternative to the PPRP, should the ruling party encounter legal trouble.
The party will today hold a special assembly at the Rajapruek Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Laksi district.
High on its agenda is the selection of a new executive board, revision of party regulations, and the appointment of an election candidate screening committee.
Ruam Thai Sang Chart has welcomed a number of high-profile politicians including Mr Pirapan, who was a former Democrat and PPRP member, former Democrat politician Akanat Prompan and former Action Coalition for Thailand Party (ACT) secretary-general Duangrit Benjathikul Chairungruang.
Mr Pirapan is said to have applied for party membership on July 28 while Mr Akanat and Mr Duangrit enrolled as party members on Monday.
Speculation is rife that Mr Pirapan, a close associate of Gen Prayut, will assume the party leadership while Mr Akanat will become its secretary-general.
The party is widely seen as a possible offshoot of the PPRP and a ploy by the ruling party to address its waning popularity.
ACT leader Anek Laothamatas, on Tuesday denied speculation about a possible merger with Ruam Thai Sang Chart.