MFP, Pheu Thai to huddle over House Speaker post row
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MFP, Pheu Thai to huddle over House Speaker post row

The Move Forward Party (MFP) and Pheu Thai Party will thrash out their differences over the House Speaker post, a position both parties have been aiming to fill, at a meeting with all eight prospective coalition partners on Tuesday.

The conflict over who should get the House Speaker position has raged on for days in interviews and on social media, prompting MFP leader and prime minister candidate Pita Limjaroenrat to come out on Friday to call on the coalition partners to remain united and settle the matter in talks.

Chaithawat Tulathon, MFP secretary-general in his capacity as party coordinator working on formation of an MFP-led coalition government, on Saturday said the discussion is expected to begin at 2.30pm at Prachachart Party headquarters. Mr Pita has stressed the importance of all coalition parties taking part, Mr Chaithawat said.

The meeting was initially intended to serve as a forum for the parties to discuss who will implement parts of a memorandum of understanding jointly signed on Monday, he said.

The MoU, signed by MFP and its coalition partners, sets out the policies they have agreed on so a government can be formed.

Discussions about the allocation of cabinet portfolios will follow Tuesday's meeting, Mr Chaithawat said, adding some cabinet ministers in the MFP quota will also include outsiders who are deemed suitable.

The MFP has yet to formally begin internal discussions on who will hold which cabinet positions, he said. The allocation of cabinet portfolios could serve as more fertile ground for disputes, with Pheu Thai likely to ask for key jobs, based on their strong election night showing, just as they did the speaker's job.

Prasert Chantararuangthong, Pheu Thai secretary-general, said both parties are expected to settle the House speakership matter this week. He said he was optimistic the talks would yield a fruitful result so that a vote to select a new House Speaker wouldn't be necessary.

Mr Prasert said the dispute between the MFP and Pheu Thai over the speaker post was unlikely to lead to a serious rift or bar them from working together as a coalition.

Suchart Tancharoen, an elected list-MP of Pheu Thai and ex-deputy House Speaker, however, said some remarks by the MFP about the role of the House Speaker might have misguided people about the importance of this position.

In the past, a House Speaker wasn't from a party that won a majority, but someone who was elected by fellow MPs, he said. More importantly, the speaker must always follow regulations and not be biased against bills proposed by other parties, he said.

Deputy MFP leader Nutthawut Buaprathum said he is confident the matter will be sorted out.

"Pheu Thai will never pull out and leave any opportunity for a dictator regime to return, for the sake of our [voters]," he said on Facebook.

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