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Sam Mitr brought to heel, promises to end Cabinet demands

Jul 02. 2019
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By The Nation

Phalang Pracharat Party’s Sam Mitr or Three Allies on Tuesday backtracked on their motion to remove party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong over a dispute for Cabinet spots, in a move to end the internal tension that has been rocking the news headlines.

Appearing calmer than in their previous announcement, the influential group represented by its leader Suriya Juangroongruangkit along with Somsak Thepsutin said on Tuesday the trio would respect Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s decisions on who will sit in the new Cabinet.

The new development was announced on Tuesday morning in a press conference led by Phalang Pracharat leader Uttama Savanayana. Uttama said different opinions from different factions in the party showed democracy was the way of Phalang Pracharat, while conceding that the tone of Sam Mitr had been a little aggressive.

The involved members had already discussed their thoughts, he said, and the group had given assurances that they were ready to move forward to serve the public unconditionally.

Uttama denied that Sam Mitr’s changed stance was due to threats of a coup.

Meanwhile, faction leader Suriya explained the previous aggressive stance as emerging out of the feeling of resentment. He and another Sam Mitr leader, Anucha Nakasai, had been left out of the Cabinet line-up after the group had worked hard campaigning in the election, the veteran politician said.

But after discussions within the party, Suriya said the group agreed that the country must move forward and that it accepted that the Cabinet portfolios would be decided by the PM.

“We will not make any more demands,” the Sam Mitr leader said. “We will not cause any more trouble and will dedicate ourselves to the national interest after having already talked to the senior figures [on Monday]. Now, whatever positions we get, it is up to the PM.”

Somsak, another key Sam Mitr member told the press conference there would be no motion to drive off the party’s secretary-general, Sontirat.

“The members have already talked through the matter and already informed the powers that be of its desire,” Somsak said. “Now, it’s time that we serve the people.”

Sam Mitr upset was triggered by not getting the previously agreed ministerial energy and commerce seats.

The Sam Mitr faction comprises veteran politicians led by three powerful figures, including Suriya and Somsak.

Of the 116 MPs in Phalang Pracharat Party, more than 30 were controlled by Sam Mitr. The group had earlier threatened to withdraw from the junta-aligned party and take these MPs with them unless they got the agreed political positions.

With the slim majority in its hand, Phalang Pracharat is viewed as a wobbly coalition leader and could be in serious trouble if it was unable to control its MPs.

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