Pheu Thai, Bhumjaithai forge pact

Pheu Thai, Bhumjaithai forge pact

Claim backing for solid House majority

The leaders of the Bhumjaithai and Pheu Thai parties, Anutin Charnvirakul, centre left, and Dr Cholnan Srikaew, centre right, shake hands at the announcement of their decision to form a new government together at the Pheu Thai Party head office yesterday. More parties are expected to join the new coalition line-up. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
The leaders of the Bhumjaithai and Pheu Thai parties, Anutin Charnvirakul, centre left, and Dr Cholnan Srikaew, centre right, shake hands at the announcement of their decision to form a new government together at the Pheu Thai Party head office yesterday. More parties are expected to join the new coalition line-up. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai parties have forged a political alliance with 212 House seats to form a coalition government, saying they already have the backing of MPs from other parties to ensure a solid House majority.

Key figures of the two parties held a press conference to announce their bid to form a government at Pheu Thai's headquarters yesterday.

Bhumjaithai leader, Anutin Charnvirakul, said that Bhumjaithai has no objection to Pheu Thai forming a government as long as Section 112 of the Criminal Code, otherwise known as the lese majeste law, is left untouched.

He added that Bhumjaithai does not support a minority government and will not join any government if the Move Forward Party (MFP) is part of it.

"Today, we have been informed by Pheu Thai that it has agreed with us on these matters. Therefore, from now on, efforts to steer the country forward must go ahead without obstacles," Mr Anutin said.

"Pheu Thai has now gathered the support of 212 MPs -- 141 from Pheu Thai and 71 from Bhumjaithai. When more parties are invited to join, we are confident that this alliance will be able to form a government," Mr Anutin said.

"Pheu Thai also confirms that coalition parties already have the support of more than half of [the total of 500] MPs. We will work together to seek additional support from other MPs and senators to ensure a solid majority in parliament," Mr Anutin said.

"Regarding the nomination of a prime ministerial candidate, Bhumjaithai must act in line with the proposal from Pheu Thai and the schedule set by the parliament president," Mr Anutin said.

'Special political situation'

Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said he was grateful that Bhumjaithai had agreed to join Pheu Thai "to solve people's problems and national crises, especially those concerning the constitution".

"The 212 votes of Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai will be the base for the government's formation, and there will be more to provide majority support in the House.

"So, there are no worries about the possibility of a government with a minority of votes," Dr Cholnan said, adding that Pheu Thai welcomes support for its prime ministerial candidate from all parties.

"The support can come from all parties, possibly from individual members of any party," he said.

"In this special political situation, amid conflict in society, we ask for votes from all parties to support Pheu Thai's candidate for prime minister," he said.

He confirmed that Srettha Thavisin remained Pheu Thai's candidate for the role.

The Pheu Thai leader also confirmed the new coalition would not include the MFP. Other parties and senators would not support a coalition government if it included the MFP, Dr Cholnan said.

"The problems facing the country are severe. The faster a new government is formed, the faster the problems will be solved," he said.

Dr Cholnan went on to say that the new government would step up efforts to revitalise the economy and restore democracy and unity among the people.

New constitution a priority

Amending the constitution is another priority, and when the new government is formed, the first cabinet meeting will push for a referendum on the drafting of a new constitution to be held, he said.

Asked if the so-called "uncle" parties will also be invited to join the Pheu Thai-led coalition, Dr Cholnan said: "The two uncles are not mentioned in the announcement, but we don't mind if any individual MPs or senators support our PM candidate."

The "uncles" refer to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the former United Thai Nation Party chief adviser and prime ministerial candidate, and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the Palang Pracharath Party leader and its prime ministerial candidate.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader Phumtham Wechayachai said that the alliance between Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai was a good starting point.

He added that he now expected other parties from the original bloc that was led by the MFP to join the alliance.

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