Red shirts snub Pheu Thai as northern by-elections loom

Red shirts snub Pheu Thai as northern by-elections loom

Pheu Thai candidates are facing new competition in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai by-elections as the party's red shirt allies ignore appointed candidates and insist on fielding their own people.

In Chiang Mai, red shirt supporters have demanded "primary voting" to select a candidate for the Pheu Thai Party to run in a by-election in Constituency 3, that covers San Kamphaeng, Mae On and Doi Saket districts, Dapphichit Tamun, coordinator for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in Chiang Mai, said yesterday.

The UDD Chiang Mai has agreed with local leaders in the three districts to have constituents vote for a candidate of their choice and nominate them for the party's consideration rather than to let it "pick a candidate whom people don't love or have faith in," Mr Dapphichit said.

Their move comes after the defeat of Pheu Thai candidate Somchai Rangsiwatanasak to Democrat candidate Kiatisak Songsaeng in a by-election in Pathum Thani last Saturday. The unsuccessful candidate has been criticised for not helping people enough during their struggle against heavy flooding in the province last year.

The UDD Chiang Mai will meet Pheu Thai key members this Saturday to discuss the idea of primary voting. The Election Commission has set June 2 as the by-election date to find a replacement for former Pheu Thai MP Chinnicha Wongsawat, who was disqualified for false asset and liabilities declarations.

For the election of the chairman of the Chiang Rai provincial administration organisation (PAO) on May 27, two factions of the UDD in Chiang Rai have decided to separately send their own candidates to compete with a Pheu Thai candidate.

Phanida Manotham, of the Tawan Daeng for economic stimulus faction, and former Pheu Thai MP Sarit Uengaphinan, supported by the Siang Prachachon for democracy faction, will compete against the wife of former House speaker Yongyuth Tiyaphairat, Salakjit, supported by the Pheu Thai Party and some red shirt supporters.

Siang Prachachon leader Somchai Saengthong said his group backed Mr Sarit because he has continuously helped the group in past political rallies.

In contrast, he claimed: "All seven Pheu Thai MPs for Chiang Rai have rarely heeded red shirt people".

The competition between the party and its allies worries Chiranan Chanthawong, leader of the June 24 Democracy faction. They will only snatch votes from one another and let the other candidate and former PAO head Rattana Chongsutthanamani gain an advantage, she said.

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