Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Abhisit quits as MP after Democrats join hands with junta

Jun 05. 2019
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By THE NATION

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FORMER DEMOCRAT Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva tendered his resignation yesterday as member of Parliament after his party decided to support incumbent Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha as the next premier.

Abhisit, who is No 1 party-list MP of the country’s oldest party, announced his decision to quit at TOT on Chaeng Wattana Road, hours before Parliament was scheduled to convene at the temporary site to vote for the next premier yesterday. 

The Democrats on Tuesday resolved to join the pro-junta bloc led by Phalang Pracharat Party in forming a coalition government, and to choose Prayut as the next premier.

“As an MP, I cannot walk into the chamber and vote against my party’s resolution. Also I cannot vote to support Prayut, because that will break the promise I made to the people [during the election campaign], which is more important than the party’s resolution,” Abhisit said at a press conference. 

After his party decided to back a junta-led coalition, Abhisit said he wanted to apologise to his supporters who had voted for the Democrats believing the party would maintain its stance and ideology.

“I’m sorry I can’t go against my party’s resolution. So, the only choice I have in order to keep my dignity as a former party leader and to keep the promise I made to the people, is to give up my post as MP,” he said. 

Ahead of the March 24 election, Abhisit as Democrat leader had appealed for support from voters by declaring that his party would not support Prayut’s return to power and would not ally with any corrupt politicians. 

The former premier gave up his party leadership after the Democrats came in third with 3.9 million votes, managing to only win 53 seats. In comparison, the party had won some 11.4 million popular votes in the 2011 polls. 

Abhisit said he would stick to his earlier stance to prove that power belongs to the people and that the country needs a democracy that is based on integrity. 

“The situation today is no different from the reasons for which I fought against the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime, as it behaved in much the same way [as the current regime] back in 2005. The Thaksin regime also abused power and interfered with independent agencies as well as the media,” he added. 

The former party leader has not clarified if he will be jumping ship like the so-called “New Dem” faction, which has quit the party. 

The new generation had earlier suggested that the party play the role of a “constructive” opposition in line with its ideology, rather than joining a junta-led coalition government. 

Parit Wacharasindhu, leader of the New Dem group, decided to bring his political career as a Democrat to an end yesterday by quitting the party. 

“Quitting the party is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I have left the party not because I find the members’ thoughts right or wrong, but because we think differently about what is best for the country and the people,” Parit, who is Abhisit’s nephew, posted on Facebook. 

He also apologised to the 3.9 million supporters who voted for the Democrats for failing to end dictatorship as promised by him while campaigning for votes. “I don’t have anything to say other than ‘sorry’. I apologise that what you [voters] got is not what you chose,” he said. 

Several other New Dem members also announced on Facebook their decision to quit. 

Tadchon Klinchamni said that as a junior member, he cannot change what the party has resolved, so he has decided to keep his ideology to himself and walk away from the “fake” Democrat Party. 

Nattika Loweera also said the party’s resolution goes against her personal ideology, so she has decided to end her political career with the party, adding that now there will be unity among the Democrats. 

Thanat Thanakitamnuay, the scion of a prominent businessman, and Parit Ratanakul Serirengrit also left the party. 

 

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