Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was confronted on Friday by a woman in Chiang Mai who complained about economic hardship and said she could not wait for him to dissolve the House and call an election.
The prime minister, who was making an official visit to the northern province, was leaving the Khruba Sriwichai statue in Muang district for his next stop when the woman, who later identified herself as Wandee Ratduang, shouted out that she had flowers for him.
Catching his attention, Ms Wandee gave him some withered flowers along with candles and joss sticks and demanded to know when he would dissolve the House. Gen Prayut told her to wait for an official announcement.
Flashing an anti-government three-finger symbol, Ms Wandee told reporters she has had enough of the current government.
She said it was time to change the prime minister and she wanted to know when the elections would take place.
Ms Wandee, a native of Phichit, said the withered flowers represented the state of the nation after eight years of Gen Prayut’s leadership. Security officials were standing nearby but did not try to escort her away.
Somsak to rejoin Pheu Thai
Somsak Thepsutin confirmed on Friday he will rejoin the Pheu Thai Party as he announced he was stepping down as justice minister and would not assume the caretaker role.
He said he decided to leave the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) because it does not fully oversee economic ministries, which he said means it is unable to comprehensively solve the nation’s economic woes.
Mr Somsak attributed this to the ruling party having won just 118 House seats in the 2019 general election and thus being forced to form a coalition government and sharing economic portfolios with its partners.
Pheu Thai, which is gearing up for an anticipated landslide victory in the upcoming poll, is a good fit for him, Mr Somsak said.
“I’ve decided to apply to become a Pheu Thai member, but I also want to make public that I’m stepping down as justice minister and I won’t assume the caretaker role [for that position],” he said.
Election rules for soldiers
Army commander Narongpan Jitkaewtae said the personnel guidelines are to remind soldiers of the dos and don’ts surrounding political participation as political campaigns kick into high gear.
He said soldiers are expected to conduct themselves professionally during this time, adding they are required to follow guidelines already reviewed by the Election Commission (EC).
According to the army chief, political parties can hold campaign rallies inside military bases but they are required to submit requests via the EC and comply with the rules because some military-supervised areas are restricted.
Election campaign boards are springing up throughout the country, with many being critical of the military’s role in politics or calling for the abolition of conscription for Thai citizens.
When asked about campaign materials deemed critical of the military, Gen Narongpan said he has no say on where election campaign materials should be erected, but at least they should not obstruct traffic or pose security or safety concerns.
Chuvit Kamolvisit, who has declared war on the Bhumjaithai Party, on Friday filed a petition with the EC, accusing the party of violating rules that govern party donations.
Section 72 of the Political Parties Act bans political parties or political office holders from accepting donations or other benefits from sources suspected of being illegitimate. The offence can lead to the disbanding of a political party.
Mr Chuvit said he is asking the poll agency to look into donations given to the second largest coalition party by Burijarearn Construction Co and determine if the party has violated the law.
Burijarearn Construction is at the centre of the share concealment case against Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, the secretary-general of Bhumjaithai, currently in the Constitutional Court.
Mr Chuvit claimed that Mr Saksayam helped secure concessions for the firm in 40 Transport Ministry projects between 2020 and 2022 and that Burijarearn Construction made several financial donations to Bhumjaithai.