Three parties of outgoing coalition ready to consider Pheu Thai’s invitation
Three more parties from the outgoing coalition government hinted on Tuesday they would be willing to follow the Bhumjaithai Party in joining the Pheu Thai-led coalition.
Leading members of Palang Pracharath (PPRP), United Thai Nation and Chart Thai Pattana signalled they would be willing to consider an invitation from Pheu Thai for coalition talks but said they had not received one yet. They spoke a day after Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai announced they had agreed to ally to form a government.
Pheu Thai has 141 MPs and Bhumjaithai has 71.
PPRP leader and caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan didn’t say no when asked by reporters whether his party would join the Pheu Thai-led coalition, but added that his party had yet to be approached by Pheu Thai.
Asked if PPRP would join the coalition, Prawit replied: “We have not been invited yet.” He also declined to answer when asked whether PPRP would set any condition for joining the coalition.
Meanwhile, Chart Thai Pattana leader Varawut Silpa-archa strongly hinted his party would be willing to join the coalition now that Pheu Thai has affirmed it would not seek to amend the lese majeste law, or Article 112 of the criminal code.
Article 112 was cited as the main reason for senators refusing to vote for Move Forward Party's PM candidate Pita Limjaroenrat last month.
Pheu Thai also cited Article 112 as the main reason for dumping election-winner Move Forward from its coalition.
Varawut said it now depended on Pheu Thai as to when and where it would hold coalition talks with Chart Thai Pattana.
“Whenever Pheu Thai sends out signals for talks, we’ll be ready to join,” Varawut said.
Varawut insisted on the condition that Pheu Thai must agree not to touch the monarchy and leave Article 112 intact.
When told that Pheu Thai had already affirmed it would not amend Article 112, Varawut replied it was a good signal and this stance matched with Chart Thai Pattana’s.
Varawut said Chart Thai Pattana would not demand any Cabinet seats as his party only has 10 MPs.
“The goal is to make the next government strong and capable so as to improve the economic situation. Negotiation for a quota of Cabinet seats is not the priority,’ Varawut said.
Asked whether he could accept Pheu Thai PM candidate Srettha Thavisin, as Srettha had once expressed support for Article 112 amendment, Varawut said he would accept Pheu Thai’s decision on its PM candidate. He added that Chart Thai Pattana would also have no problem with Pheu Thai setting up a charter drafting assembly to write a new constitution.
Meanwhile, acting PM’s Office minister Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, an aide of outgoing Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, said the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party had not yet been approached by Pheu Thai to join the coalition. If approached, the party leader and secretary general would have to discuss the issue, he added.
UTN, which nominated Prayut as its PM candidate in the May 14 election, captured 36 House seats.
Asked to comment on reports that several UTN MPs have been approached individually to support the Pheu Thai PM candidate, Thanakorn said the MPs should comply with the party’s stand and the decision to join the coalition should be made in the party’s name.
He added that slogan “Where there are 'the uncles', there are none of us” was now irrelevant as Prayut has declared he would leave politics. Former generals Prayut and Prawit were referred to as “uncles” by their opponents during the election campaign, especially by Move Forward and Pheu Thai, which vowed not to work in the same coalition with the coup leader and his ally.