Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed on Friday that he will join the Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation) Party and expressed his readiness to be a prime ministerial candidate for the party.
Gen Prayut clarified his intentions after the coalition leader Palang Pracharath Party, which nominated him at the last general election, said it would put forward party leader Prawit Wongsuwon as its sole prime ministerial candidate.
“I have followed up the situation regarding the nomination of prime ministerial candidates of each party. I have taken into consideration principles and a number of reasons,” he said.
“Today, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation, UTN) Party has proposed that it is willing to support me for prime minister at the next election. It is necessary that I make things clear otherwise the criticism will continue and this would cause damage.
“I said earlier that I had previously been supported by the Palang Pracharath Party, but the PPRP has already decided to nominate its party leader as its prime ministerial candidate.
“So, I will make a decision today. In fact, preparations have been made earlier. I decided to join Ruam Thai Sang Chart. Let’s be at ease now. In the end, it’s up to the people whether they will support me or not,” Gen Prayut said.
“I have to decide this way, because many things that I have done over the years need continuity of work over a specified time. I will be able to continue with what is not yet finished, or not yet achieved, or if there are still problems,’’ Gen Prayut said when speaking to reporters at Government House on Friday.
He went on to say that as a prime minster he had worked continuously, both in the first four years and the four years later. Although his government came initially from a coup and only later from an election, his administration took care of every area and every party. Development plans were implemented in all provinces, without dividing them into which areas belong to whom, Gen Prayut said.
He insisted that he had never reaped any profits when administering the country.
Asked whether he had consulted Gen Prawit regarding his plan to join Ruam Thai Sang Chart, Gen Prayut said he had informed the PPRP leader.
He said he had no rift with Gen Prawit and their relationshp remained unchanged.
“Don’t forget that relationships between soldiers are deep. After I graduated, I was under his care. He was my first commander after I graduated from the cadet school and served in the military as a second lieutenant.
“We have worked together throughout our government service until now. This bond cannot be erased. He (Gen Prawit) also feels this way,’’ said Gen Prayut.
Earlier, UTN leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said the party was waiting for the right time to name its prime ministerial candidate.
Mr Pirapan made his remarks after Gen Prayut declared he was looking to continue in office for the maximum two years which the constitution would allow him to serve after the general election, and then have a suitable successor to replace him.
During the cabinet meeting on Dec 20, Mr Pirapan was appointed secretary-general to the prime minister, a position seen by poltiical critics as the “No 2 prime minister”.
By assuming the role, Mr Pirapan effectively became Gen Prayut’s “No.2” and would be tasked with contacting and working with important politicians from various parties, a source said earlier. This added weight to expectations Gen Prayut would be nominated as the party’s prime ministerial candidate at the coming elections, due by May next year.