Prayut will join new party: source
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Prayut will join new party: source

Prayut to receive an 'image makeover'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is being courted to join the newly established Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSCP) after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit wraps up later this month, according to a party source.

The source said efforts are being made to approach Gen Prayut. "We are confident the prime minister will join the party after the conclusion of Apec," the source added.

The Apec summit will be held from Nov 18-19.

"If and when Gen Prayut joins the party, it will be necessary to reshape him into a fully-fledged politician for a refreshing change.

"His military image will take a back seat to his prominent role as a politician. We are also confident the party's popularity will increase if he joins us.

"Moreover, some MPs from other coalition parties, including the Democrat and the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), are also expected to follow in Gen Prayut's footsteps and switch over to the RTSCP," the source said.

The RTSCP is led by Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, a former Democrat MP who also serves as an adviser to the prime minister.

The RTSCP was founded in March last year by Seksakol Atthawong, a former aide to the prime minister, to back Gen Prayut's return as premier after the next general election if he so wishes.

On Tuesday, Mr Pirapan said the party would welcome Gen Prayut if he opted to join it.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon said he would have no issue with Gen Prayut switching sides.

The PPRP nominated Gen Prayut as its "outsider'' candidate for prime minister in the 2019 general election. Gen Prayut is not a member of the PPRP.

Gen Prayut remained tight-lipped about the latest rumour.

Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, who serves as the deputy Democrat leader, said on Thursday party executives will have to hold talks with MPs to find ways to prevent the "haemorrhaging of MPs" to other parties.

He said the issue had dented the confidence of party members, and executives must step up.

The RTSCP is also said to be welcoming another ex-Democrat, Trairong Suwannakhiri, who announced his resignation from the party last month after 38 years of Democrat membership.

The party's ex-deputy leader expressed interest in joining an outfit that shares similar values and ideologies, widely believed to be the RTSCP.

On Wednesday, Mr Trairong was appointed by Gen Prayut as an adviser in charge of election campaign speeches and policies, prompting speculation about Gen Prayut's preparations for the general election.

A source said Gen Prayut wanted Mr Trairong to liaise with the RTSCP.

Writing on Facebook on Thursday, Mr Trairong insisted that even if he joins a new party, he would only act as an adviser and would not accept any political position.

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