11 July 2024

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana and Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong have lost their posts, as party leader and secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharat party respectively, effective today after 18 members of the executive committee quit en masse.

Mr. Paiboon Nititawan, party deputy leader, told a news conference this afternoon (Monday) that the resignation of the committee members will result in the dissolution of the committee, in accordance with the party’s regulations.

Election of a new committee will be held within 45 days of the dissolution of the incumbent committee at the party’s general assembly, which is yet to be scheduled.

The mass resignation is the culmination of factional infighting in the ruling party, dating back to July last year, and growing resentment against both Uttama and Sontirat by rival factions. Speculation over leadership changes in the party has been intensifying in the media for the past several days.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, the party chief strategist, refused to comment on the mass resignation of committee members, but repeatedly claimed that the party remains unified.

When asked whether he will become the new party leader, he simply said “I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha refused to respond to reporters’ questions about the mass resignation and he is not a member of the party, while General Prawit is regarded as its manager and trouble shooter.

The 18 committee members who quit today are Mr. Santi Prompat, Mr. Chaivuth Thanakommanusorn, Mr. Supon Fong-ngam, Mr. Thammanat Prompao, Mr. Boonsing Warinrak, Mr. Pai Lik, Mr. Nirote Sunthornlekha, Mr. Samphan Mayusoh, Mr. Nuttapol Teepsuwan, Mr. Puttipong Punnakanta, Mr. Charnvit Vipusiri, Mr. Sakhonthi Pattanayikul, Mr. Samrith Tansap, Mr. Surachart Tirbusakorn, Mr. Niphan Siriporn, Mr. Suriya Juangroongruangkit, Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin and Mr. Pongkawin Juangroongruangkit.