MFP won't back Srettha

MFP won't back Srettha

Pheu Thai's candidate for premier faces roadblock

Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate, Srettha Thavisin, faces a more challenging road ahead after the Move Forward Party (MFP) announced yesterday it would not vote for a Pheu Thai prime minister candidate.

MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon told a press conference that the party MPs decided not to back the Pheu Thai candidate because the party did not want to support an inter-bloc government.

He said the coalition being formed by Pheu Thai went against the people's mandate as it comprised several parties in the outgoing government, while the outcome of the May 14 election indicated people wanted change.

By voting for a Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate, the MFP would not be removing the Senate from the prime minister selection process. Instead, the party would be playing into the Senate's hands.

"If political parties had intended to make the Senate irrelevant in the first place, they would have voted for the MFP-led government [and the party's candidate]," said Mr Chaithawat.

He said the party also doubted whether a Pheu Thai-led government, which would be similar to the outgoing one, would be able to push for a progressive agenda to bring changes for the people.

Mr Chaithawat said the party's decision had nothing to do with Mr Srettha's qualifications but was based on the party's political stance and pledged that it would not work with the "uncle parties" -- a reference to parties linked to military leaders involved in the 2014 coup.

Following the MFP's decision, the Pheu Thai-led coalition must find support from the military-appointed senators to secure 376 votes for Mr Srettha.

The alliance is said to have mustered 315 votes, including those from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party, which have not been formally invited to join the coalition.

At best, the coalition is believed to have 339 votes from the 500-seat House, so it needs another 37 votes from the Senate. However, a group of senators prefer PPRP leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwon to Mr Srettha, who stands accused by former politician Chuvit Kamolvisit of land tax avoidance.

Before the MFP's announcement, Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai expressed confidence that Mr Srettha would be elected at the first attempt. Mr Phumtham said the party received positive feedback from the Senate but declined to say if Pheu Thai could secure as many as 100 votes from the Upper House. He accepted for consideration the Senate's call for Mr Srettha to outline his vision before the vote.

He said the party decided to abandon the MFP and form a new coalition, possibly with the PPRP and UTN on board, because the country required a government to tackle problems, adding it was ready to be held accountable if this was a flawed decision.

Mr Phumtham said the allocation of cabinet seats would be discussed following the prime minister vote after some parties mentioned the distribution of positions.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday the negotiations over the allocation of cabinet seats should take place before the prime minister vote, and he plans to discuss it with Pheu Thai this week. When asked about the targeted cabinet seats, Mr Anutin said he should keep the matter for the discussion with the Pheu Thai Party. He added that he could not say how many seats each party should get because the number of prospective partners was not finalised.

Meanwhile, Phai Lik, a PPRP MP for Kamphaeng Phet, confirmed yesterday the party's 40 MPs would vote unconditionally for the Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate and that he had secured seven more votes from the Senate.

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