Prayut 'will not stand' in May election

Prayut 'will not stand' in May election

A key member of the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party confirmed yesterday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would not run as a list-MP candidate for the party.

UTN member Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the party has finalised the selection of its party-list and constituency candidates and that Gen Prayut will not stand in the election.

Mr Thanakorn played down criticism that Gen Prayut's decision will affect the UTN's election campaign, saying it will not cause problems because Gen Prayut, who is both a party member and chief strategist, will lead campaign rallies.

"It shouldn't be any problem. Everything will go as planned. The party is ready for the campaign," he said.

Mr Thanakorn, who is also Prime Minister's Office Minister, expressed confidence that the premier's approval rating would be higher than the 2019 polls.

Gen Prayut formally accepted the UTN's nomination to become its first prime ministerial candidate during a party seminar to familiarise potential MP candidates with election rules on Saturday. UTN leader Pirapan Salirathavi­bhaga, who takes the first party-list spot, is named as the party's second PM candidate.

Gen Prayut yesterday dismissed speculation that he would not stand in the election because he can only serve for about two years in the post due to term limits. "It's not relevant," he replied when asked by reporters if he decided to stay out of the election contest because he did not want to become a full-time lawmaker.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a key figure of the Progressive Movement, yesterday called for charter amendments to require a prime minister to be an elected MP. His call followed reports that Gen Prayut and two presumptive prime minister candidates from the Pheu Thai Party, Paetongtarn "Ung Ing" Shinawatra and Srettha Thavisin, would not run for House seats.

Mr Piyabutr said a constitutional requirement for the prime minister to be an MP is seen as a mechanism to help prevent "outsiders" from assuming the post.

He said the requirement will also make the prime minister duty-bound to answer questions from fellow MPs, noting that the cabinet tends to see the importance of lawmakers when it needs their votes.

Under the current law, prime minister candidates are not constitutionally required to contest the elections and a party, which wins at least 25 House seats, can nominate up to three prime ministerial candidates for a vote in parliament.

The Election Commission yesterday issued an announcement concerning the candidacy registration and the nomination of prime ministerial candidates set for April 3-7.

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