Move Forward Party heals rift as ‘critical’ election looms
The leader of Thailand’s second-largest opposition party – Move Forward – ended his dispute on Thursday with one of the most influential progressive figures in Thailand to unite for an election that may transform the country’s future.
Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said his dispute with Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, former secretary-general of his party’s predecessor – the Future Forward Party – was caused by a misunderstanding.
“Now that we have settled the misunderstanding and we can work together,” Pita said in a Facebook post, which was accompanied by a photo showing him and Piyabutr side by side.
The dispute resulted from “problems that have accumulated over a long time” and it will not happen again, Pita said.
Misunderstandings are normal for any political party and he is convinced the disagreement will not damage the party’s performance in the upcoming election, Pita said.
Pita also thanked the people who helped bring him and Piyabutr together to settle their differences.
Piyabutr, now a key leader in the political advocacy group Progressive Movement, was banned from politics after Future Forward was dissolved in 2020 by a court order for accepting illegal political donations.
Piyabutr, a former law professor, confirmed that he and Pita had settled their differences.
“In this crucial situation, the Move Forward Party is necessary. I support Pita and other executives to lead the party into the election,” he wrote on Facebook.
Piyabutr also apologised to everyone involved with the party for putting them in a difficult position following recent criticism of the party and its leadership’s strategy for the election.
He had said that Move Forward needed to clearly present itself as a party for the reformist “new force” against the “old force” of conservatives. He also accused the party’s leaders of having no ability to woo potential supporters.
In response, Pita asked him to stop “being unhelpful and obstructing party work” and accused him of being “unprofessional”.
Piyabutr responded by accusing Pita of “pushing himself up while pulling me down”. He also said that he was ready for the media interviews he had always shunned to “expose” Pita.