A political deal involving the formation of a new government has been reached in Hong Kong between ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the Progressive Movement, ahead of Thaksin's plan to return to Thailand, a source in the Pheu Thai Party says.
The source said Mr Thanathorn flew to Hong Kong on Monday morning and returned to Thailand the following day.
"They discussed the possibility of the MFP [Move Forward Party] being excluded from the new government," the source said. The source did not give further details.
The Progressive Movement emerged after the Future Forward Party (FFP), which Mr Thanathorn founded and served as leader, was disbanded over a loan he extended to the party, which the Constitutional Court deemed to be illegal.
While the dissolved outfit re-emerged as the MFP, its key figures -- who were banned from participating in elections -- came together to form the Progressive Movement, which has been helping the MFP campaign for the election.
Thaksin, meanwhile, is widely believed to be Pheu Thai's de facto leader.
The revelation came after MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon dismissed a report on Wednesday which claimed the party's key figures were planning to fly to Hong Kong to meet Thaksin to discuss the preconditions for joining a new government.
When asked if the MFP had any plans to meet Thaksin for talks, Mr Chaithawat insisted that any decision on the formation of a new government must be reached by the eight allies in the coalition.
According to sources, Mr Thanathorn flew to Hong Kong on flight CX700 on Monday and returned to Thailand on flight HX773 on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, massage parlour tycoon-turned-whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit held a press conference on Thursday in which he claimed Pheu Thai had struck a deal with Bhumjaithai and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) parties to form a government with a combined 279 MPs, excluding the MFP.
He said that key figures of the parties met Thaksin in Hong Kong to strike the deal on Tuesday -- the same day Mr Thanathorn met Thaksin there, Mr Chuvit claimed.
"With the formation of a new coalition, the MFP, the United Thai Nation Party, and the Democrat Party would form the opposition," he said.
A PM candidate nominated by the new coalition bloc would get the support from senators because the MFP would no longer be part of the coalition, Mr Chuvit said.
"The deal is designed to untie the knot [that binds Pheu Thai and the MFP under the MoU they signed]," Mr Chuvit said.
"The MFP failed in its bid to form a government and let Pheu Thai have a go at forming one, [but] Pheu Thai would not succeed, either.
"Bhumjaithai will then be given a chance and succeed. It will also invite other parties [outside the MFP-led bloc] to join the new coalition," he said.
"Pheu Thai and the MFP are bound together. Pheu Thai cannot say it doesn't want to stay with the MFP, so it has to let Bhumjaithai do the work because Bhumjaithai had made it clear from the very beginning that it will not work with the MFP," Mr Chuvit said.
"Pheu Thai would nominate Chaikasem Nitisiri, but he won't get enough support. Bhumjaithai would then take charge of forming a new government," Mr Chuvit said.
Another source said that the leader of the PPRP, Prawit Wongsuwon, has thrown his support behind Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Thaksin's daughter and Pheu Thai PM candidate.
If Pheu Thai nominated her for the next PM vote, senators who have close ties with Gen Prawit would vote for her, the source said.