Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declined to disclose on Wednesday why he has decided not to run as a list-MP candidate for the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party in the upcoming election, describing it as a personal matter.
UTN member Thanakorn Wang- boonkongchana said on Tuesday the party had finalised the selection of its party-list and constituency candidates, and Gen Prayut was not on either list.
He played down criticism that Gen Prayut's decision would affect the party's election campaign, noting the prime minister, who is both a party member and its chief strategist, would lead campaign rallies.
Gen Prayut also declined to comment on a report by Kyodo News last week that fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is ready to return to Thailand and even serve a prison term if necessary, provided he can spend the rest of his life with his family.
Thaksin spoke to the Japanese wire agency during a trip to Tokyo. He said he is biding his time before possibly returning home this year after years of self-exile abroad. He was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and left Thailand in 2008 to avoid time in prison.
Meanwhile, Chuan Leekpai, the former leader of the Democrat Party, when asked for his thoughts on Gen Prayut's decision, said he understood how challenging it would be for a person who does not intend to serve as a real politician to make such a decision.
The constitution does not stipulate that a prime minister must be a member of parliament.
Meanwhile, Supachai Jaisamut, a former Bhumjaithai list-MP and party registrar, said the party's preparations for primary voting for MP candidates in all 400 constituencies are still underway.
Its party list of 100 candidates has been finalised, with party leader Anutin Charnvirakul topping the list, followed by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, he said. The rest will be arranged alphabetically.
The list will be submitted to the party's nomination and administration committees for consideration ahead of the deadline next Monday. The party will submit 100 candidates for party list-MPs the following day.
Prapat Potasuthon, Chartthaipattana's secretary-general, said the party's board decided to submit MP candidates in 50 constituencies in 26 provinces and 89 candidates for party list-MPs, led by the party's leader.