11 July 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today there will be no cabinet reshuffle following the resignations of four ministers who are core members of the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party and declared that he will seek to return to power only through election.

Prayut openly ruled out the possibility that he might exploit the provisional clause of the Constitution to be re-appointed prime minister with the support of the junta-controlled Senate.

But again, he stopped short of committing himself to aligning with any particular political party in the upcoming election, saying that he was waiting for a formal “invitation.”   “I already have an answer in my mind. But I need to see its policies first,” he said, explaining that he would have to see whether the policies of the party he would join are compatible with his.

Under the Constitution, each political party has the option of submitting a list of up to three candidates for prime minister. But the provisional clause of the Constitution allows members of the House of the Representatives and members of the Cabinet to skip the list and vote for a so-called “outsider” to be the next prime minister.

Gen Prayut said he would only seek to return to power only as a prime ministerial candidate of a political party. “I will definitely not try to be an outsider prime minister,” he said.

Gen Prayut has been widely tipped to be nominated a prime minister candidate by Palang Pracharat party. However, observers noted that Gen Prayut has been showing signs of wavering apparently because of the party’s not so impressive showing in a series of opinion polls.

The party has among its founders four members of Gen Prayut’s cabinet.  The four, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool and Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, submitted their resignations with Gen Prayut this morning, saying they wanted to devote their time to campaigning for the election.

After the meeting with the prime minister, Uttama, leader of the Palang Pracharat party, told the media at the Government House that he and his three colleagues had fulfilled their pledge to resign at a right time “and today is the right time to start working full time for Palang Pracharat party.”

He said the party had not approached anyone, including the prime minister, to be the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the post-election government, adding that this issue would be settled in the party during February 4-8 which will be the period for registration of election candidates.