Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha with the cabinet at Suphan Buri: ‘Happy to talk but there won’t be any deals’ (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he welcomes all political parties to talk with the government to move ahead with national unity, but brushed aside speculation that he has made “a deal” with the Chartthaipattana Party to stay on in power.
“I welcome everybody, both existing politicians and newcomers, for talks. If you want the country to move forward with unity, you can meet me. But there won’t be any deals.
“I just want everybody to acknowledge what the government is doing,” Gen Prayut said Tuesday during a mobile cabinet meeting in Ayutthaya.
He slammed some critics and the media for speculating that the regime might have made a secret deal with Chartthaipattana, after the party threw its support behind Gen Prayut to stay on as premier after an election expected late next year.
“I didn’t make any deal whatsoever. If you think we can move the country forward together, you can come and talk. That will be fundamental to reconciliation, peace and order in the next general election,” he said.
Speculation about a secret deal to support Gen Prayut to stay on as premier was sparked after his meeting with a key Chartthaipattana figure in Suphan Buri during his visit to the province on Monday.
Former Chartthaipattana deputy leader Prapat Pothasuthon told Gen Prayut he would have no objection to him staying on for another eight to 10 years, as long as the prime minister improves people’s standard of living.
Gen Prayut was apparently happy with the party’s stance.
Still, the prime minister insisted he has been following his regime’s political road map.
“We are making Thailand a democratic country, and special means are needed to achieve that goal. If we use normal means, is it really possible? I am well aware that the method to reach the goal is not democratic, but the problem needs to be fixed in this way,” he said.
He also warned Ayutthaya residents not to become pawns of some political groups encouraging them to gather in the capital.
“You can go to Bangkok to pay respect to the late King, but if you are going for other purposes or if anybody tries to persuade you to go, don’t go. Please stop it, in every province. Even if I call you to fight for me, don’t go.”
Meanwhile, Chartthaipattana chief adviser Somsak Prisananathakul shrugged off criticism that the party was trying to curry favour with the regime.
Mr Somsak said Gen Prayut’s visit gave Chartthaipattana politicians a chance to relay problems and the needs of local people to the government.
He also said that Mr Prapat’s support for Gen Prayut to stay on as prime minister was only his personal view, not the party’s collective stance.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but Chartthaipattana never makes enemies. We are friends with all parties. When we join hands with anyone, we never abandon them. But if the party with a majority of House seats does not choose us, we will just sit in opposition as in the past,” Mr Somsak said.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also said it was no surprise that Chartthaipattana politicians welcomed Gen Prayut during his visit.
Mr Abhisit added it was too early to say if this was an attempt by the regime to forge a political alliance.
He also affirmed to the Bangkok Post the Democrat Party’s stance that it will not support a non-elected outsider becoming prime minister after the election.
“I have made it clear that it must be left to the House of Representatives to nominate a prime ministerial candidate first. A party which can gather the support of 250 MPs must have the right to nominate [a prime minister] before the 250 senators do,” Mr Abhisit said.
“The 250 senators should not resist the House of Representatives which is elected by the people,” Mr Abhisit added.
Under the new charter, senators can join MPs in proposing a motion to suspend the rule requiring prime ministerial candidates to come from political party lists, paving the way for an “outsider” prime minister to be selected.
On the a possibility of a national unity government, he said the Democrat Party is ready to work together with the Pheu Thai Party only if the latter cuts ties with its de facto leader, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
“The Democrat Party is ready to work with Pheu Thai if Pheu Thai agrees to shake off the influence of Thaksin and stop working for the sake of Thaksin. If it cannot, it will be difficult,” Mr Abhisit said.
Pheu Thai key figure Chaturon Chaisaeng said that Chartthaipattana’s move may be part of a plan to seek support for an outsider prime minister.
He said he believes Gen Prayut is likely to become prime minister again if political parties do not oppose an outsider premier.