Ex-top cop seen as likely PM candidate for PPRP
Former national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda is in the spotlight as a potential candidate for prime minister in the next general election, running under the banner of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).
Suchart Chomklin, the PPRP director, said the party is deciding whether to have three prime ministerial candidates, the maximum allowed.
He insisted, however, that it was too early to say who should occupy the first, second or third spot on the party's nomination list.
Mr Suchart was responding to a reporter's question on whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would be re-nominated as the PPRP's only choice, or if the party should also field other candidates from within its ranks.
Pol Gen Chakthip has emerged as a potential candidate, nonetheless. Earlier, the former police chief, who has deep ties with the PPRP, was prepared to contest the Bangkok governor election as an independent in May.
His campaign was cut short when he abruptly announced his withdrawal.
It was reported that PPRP leader and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had "more important" plans for him.
It is believed that Pol Gen Chakthip is being groomed as a potential political heir to either Gen Prayut or Gen Prawit, two of the so-called "Three Por" generals seen as the country's most powerful political clique.
The other general is Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.
According to a PPRP source, Pol Gen Chakthip has been assisting the party in expanding voters' support in the Northeast for some time.
The Constitutional Court ruled on Sept 30 that Gen Prayut officially began his term as prime minister in April 2017, meaning he could stay in office until 2025, provided he is re-elected by parliament after the general election expected to take place in the first half of next year.
If he returns as prime minister but is unable to remain to complete his four-year term, the PPRP would need someone else to carry the baton.
PPRP MP for Nakhon Sawan Veerakorn Kamprakob said last week he believes the party will come up with three candidates. In the 2019 poll, the PPRP nominated Gen Prayut as its sole candidate.
Mr Veerakorn said Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit will still be on the party's list as they both appeal to voters.