House speaker dispute not settled, says Pheu Thai

House speaker dispute not settled, says Pheu Thai

Decision only after election results are officially endorsed

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, centre, and leaders of seven other parties at the Pheu Thai Party headquarters on June 7. (File photo)
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, centre, and leaders of seven other parties at the Pheu Thai Party headquarters on June 7. (File photo)

Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said on Monday it had not been agreed which party would take the post of House speaker in the planned coalition government headed by the Move Forward Party.

Mr Phumtham said his comments on Sunday had been misinterpreted in stories quoting him as saying the issue had been settled between the two parties, and Pheu Thai had conceded the post

"I said that the political party which comes first (with the most MPs) should get the House speaker's post, and the party which comes second should get the two deputy speaker positions. This was misinterpreted as Pheu Thai having conceded the House speaker's post to Move Forward," he said.

Mr Phumtham said it was not yet finalised which party would be number one, the party with the most MPs. This would be clear only when the Election Commission endorses the MPs-elect on June 21.

According to unofficial election results, Move Forward came first with 151 MPs-elect and Pheu Thai second with 141, in the constituency and party-list systems.

He said he had not mentioned by name which party would get the House speaker's post, or who would be nominated for the post. The matter would still have to be thrashed out by the parties concerned, he said.

Mr Phumtham said that he on Sunday night he had called Adisorn Piangket, a Pheu Thai list MP-elect, to clear up this matter.

Mr Adisorn had on Sunday expressed his strong dissatisfaction, saying that the party had conceded the the speakership to the Move Forward Party.

Mr Phumtham said he had proposed a way out of the stalemate after Pheu Thai and Move Forward had locked horns over the House speaker's job. He wanted the formation of a coalition government of eight parties to proceed. People were waiting to see change, not a fight over political positions.

When it was clear which party had trhe most MPs, talks between Pheu Thai and Move Forward would then begin. After the EC's endorsement of MPs-elect, the two parties would have 15 days to do that before the selection of the House speaker, he said.

Asked about a report that the Move Forward Party would name its candidate for House speaker on June 22, Mr Phumtham said this had not been jointly agreed on by the two parties.

Pheu Thai itself had not settled on what positions would be filled by which members, either in the House or in the new cabinet, he said.

He said the two parties should for now focus on the government's formation.

At the Move Forward head office, party secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon said he believed the House speakership issue would be resolved this week.

He thanked Mr Phumtham and Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chantara-ruangthong for having voiced Pheu Thai's position on the matter.

Asked who Move Forward would nominate for the post of House Speaker, Mr Chaithawat said the party had yet to go through a selection process. Three MPs-elect of the party had earlier been reported to be the candidates - Nathawut Buaprathum, a list MP-elect and deputy party leader, Padipat Santipada, an MP-elect for Phitsanulok, and Teerajchai Panthumas, an MP-election for Bangkok.

He said leaders of the eight parties forming the coalition would hold a meeting on Thursday after MPs-elect have been endorsed by the Election Commission. He did not think the allocation of cabinet posts would be discussed on that day.

Asked about the suggestion by political analysts that the Pheu Thai Party might want the prime ministership if Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat's nomination failed to get parliamentary endorsement, Mr Chaithawat said he had not thought about it. They were concentrating on the formation of a  government with Mr Pita as prime minister.

"I  speak on behalf of Pheu Thai, that the party has shown its clear intention to join in forming the government and push for Mr Pita to be prime minister," Mr Chaithawat said.

If everything went according to the set timeline, the new prime minister would be chosen in the middle of July, he added.

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