Wissanu tight-lipped on future of House
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam downplayed speculation on Thursday that suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha may dissolve parliament after the Apec summit in November.
To be in a position to do that, of course, Gen Prayut must first survive a Constitutional Court ruling later this month on when his eight-year tenure ends.
Speculation as to his future intentions arose after the Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday announced a timeline for the general election, with some observers seeing it as a possible sign that the House could be dissolved.
According to the EC, the election will take place on May 7, assuming the House of Representatives completes its four-year term in March.
But if the House is dissolved before then, an election date will be set within 45 days of that happening.
Mr Wissanu said the timeline was intended to inform the government of what it should prepare for in the months ahead.
When quizzed on the potential dissolution of the House, he said: "Reporters keep asking about it so I simply told them 'let's see after the Apec meeting', but it doesn't mean it will happen."
He urged people to stop speculating about Gen Prayut's fate and await the court ruling.
Deputy Prime Minister and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon on Thursday brushed off similar questions.
However, in March, Gen Prawit, now the acting prime minister, was quoted as telling a small coalition of government partners that the House would be dissolved after the Apec meeting, with the election likely to take place early in the year.
When pressed on the issue, he replied: "It depends on the situation ... this is only speculation."
EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said the EC would clarify details related to election campaigns and preparations at its meeting with political parties today to make sure they fully understand the rules, especially those pertaining to the primary voting.
The meeting is necessary because two organic bills on political parties and the election of MPs have not taken effect yet, he said.
The primary voting process will be easier to conduct under the revised organic bill on political parties, he added.
The bills are being deliberated by the Constitutional Court to see if they are valid and in line with the charter.
Pheu Thai member Chaturon Chaisang asked the EC on Thursday to clarify what parties can do during the 180 days before the House completes its term.
He said the poll agency should review some rules deemed impractical, arguing that some social activities that take place during an election campaign, such as attending funerals and merit-making events, should not be classified as canvassing.
Meanwhile, Sang Anakhot Thai leader Uttama Savanayana said the party is ready to contest the elections regardless of whether they are held in May or earlier next year.