Prayut's future still under wraps after report of crucial meeting

Prayut's future still under wraps after report of crucial meeting

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin talked to reporters before attending the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin talked to reporters before attending the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's political future remained under wraps on Tuesday, with key members of the Sam Mitr faction of the Palang Pracharath party (PPRP) tight-lipped over the prospect of his joining the Ruam Thai Sang Chart party led by Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.

The likelihood of Gen Prayut's move to Ruam Thai Sang Chart gained momentum after it was reported  he had met Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the PPRP leader, at the office of the Foundation for the Conservation of Forests in Five Adjoining Provinces in the compound of the 1st Infantry Division in Bangkok. 

At the meeting, Gen Prayut reportedly informed Gen Prawit of his plan to join the Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation) party for the coming general election.

PPRP secretary-general Santi Promphat, who is deputy finance minister, on Tuesday denied any prior knowledge of this, saying he learned of it from newspapers on Tuesday morning.

Asked whether he thought it was true, Mr Santi said he could not say anything yet. He had not yet made an appointment with Gen Prawit to talk the matter over.

He declined to answer when asked if he would remain with PPRP and continue to support Gen Prawit.

Somsak Thepsuthin, the justice minister and chairman of the PPRP's strategy committee, also refused to comment when asked in what direction the Sam Mitr faction would go next. He said that with new information and uncertainties arising, he would have look into all political developments before making a decision.

"Since politics concerns the majority of people, the decision cannot be made based on personal favours," Mr Somsak said.

Mr Somsak also declined to say that the Sam Mitr faction would definitely remain with PPRP, citing the volatile political situation.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul, the public health minister said he would rather not interfere in the affairs of other parties when asked about Gen Prayut's joining Ruam Thai Sang Chart.

He said Bhumjaithai respects other parties. "What we are doing is reducing conflict and doing away with hatred. We don't make hate speeches or point out the weaknesses of other parties," he said.

Asked whether he thought the government would serve its full term or the House of Representatives would be dissolved early, Mr Anutin said anything could happen and he believed every party was now ready for a general election.

Mr Anutin declined to say how many MPs he expected to defect to Bhumjaithai.

Gen Prayut remained tight-lipped when asked by reporters as he went into Tuesday's cabinet meeting about the report he had met and informed Gen Prawit he would join Ruam Thai Sang Chart. 

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