Doubt over PM candidate

Doubt over PM candidate

Srettha urged to first address parliament

Srettha Thavisin
Srettha Thavisin

Senators are still divided over whether to back Srettha Thavisin, a Pheu Thai Party prime ministerial candidate, in the next PM vote in parliament.

Sen Seree Suwanpanont said the 250 senators must check the qualifications of the candidate as well as ask how Pheu Thai's election pledges, such as the 10,000-baht "digital money" giveaway, will be funded.

"The senators want to hear Srettha explain in parliament before the vote," Sen Seree said.

Responding to Sen Wanchai Sornsiri, who claimed that more than 90% of senators would vote for Mr Srettha, Sen Seree said it was not clear whether the majority of senators would do so.

"Things can change before the vote," Sen Seree said. "If a prime ministerial candidate fails to meet the qualifications stipulated by the constitution, the nomination may be pulled out.

"I speak in general, not referring to Mr Srettha in particular," he said.

Asked whether the next PM vote will be held on Aug 22, Mr Seree said it is up to Parliament President Wan Muhamad Noor Matha to set the date.

After the Constitutional Court decides on Wednesday whether to accept a petition seeking a ruling on whether parliament's rejection of the renomination of Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister is constitutional, the vote could be held on Aug 21 or 22, Sen Seree said.

Seree: Questions qualification

Sen Kittisak Rattanawaraha echoed that view, saying he does not think 90% of senators will back Mr Srettha as claimed by Sen Wanchai.

"There are several days and anything can happen before the vote," Sen Kittisak said.

Asked to comment about a group of 40 MPs from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) who earlier said they would vote for Pheu Thai's candidate, Sen Kittisak said the two parties have not yet announced a formal agreement to work together.

Wanchai: Support not about PPRP

"But this could be seen as a signal of bargaining for what they want," Sen Kittisak said. "If they don't get what they ask for, Pheu Thai may not receive enough support.

"It looks like they are trying pressure Pheu Thai into relying heavily on Gen Prawit Wongsuwon [the PPRP leader] because Pheu Thai can no longer turn to the Move Forward Party," he added.

"Right now, those who have the upper hand are Gen Prawit and Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul," he said. "If either or both of them pull out, the Pheu Thai-led coalition will collapse.

"If Gen Prawit is not part of the government, the senators who are close to him will not vote for Mr Srettha," he said.

According to a source, Pheu Thai has sealed a deal with the PPRP, and the PPRP has agreed to vote for Mr Srettha in exchange for slices of the cabinet quota.

However, the United Thai Nation Party (UTN) has not yet confirmed whether it will join the Pheu Thai coalition, the source said. If the UTN agrees to join, the Pheu Thai-led coalition will boast 315 MPs, the source added.

Pheu Thai has 141 MPs while Bhumjaithai has 71 MPs, the PPRP 40, the UTN 36, Chartthaipattana 10, Prachachat nine, Pheu Thai Ruam Palang two, Chartpattanakla two, with Seri Ruam Thai Party, Plung Sungkom Mai, Thongthee Thai and the New Democracy Party all having one MP each.

Sen Wanchai wrote on Facebook on Sunday that: "Ninety percent of senators will throw their full support behind Mr Srettha in the next prime ministerial vote" because Pheu Thai can gather enough backing from other parties to ensure a House majority.

He wrote that supporting Pheu Thai's PM candidate has nothing to do with the PPRP's prospects of joining a Pheu Thai-led coalition.

Most senators would support Pheu Thai and its PM candidate because it had broken away from the MFP, whose policy was to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, a move opposed by many senators, he wrote.

"When Pheu Thai shows that it can gather enough support, the senators are ready to vote for its prime ministerial candidate, regardless of whether the PPRP and the UTN are part of the Pheu Thai-led coalition," Sen Wanchai wrote on his Facebook page.

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