Thailand: PM must tread fine poll line

  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha must tread carefully when taking part in the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) election campaign as the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said 4 Mar 19.
  • The prime minister will have to be neutral, Mr Wissanu insisted.
  • Mr Wissanu’s remarks came with Gen Prayut expected to make his public debut as the PPRP’s prime ministerial candidate and address voters in Nakhon Ratchasima, his birthplace, this 10 Mar 19.
  • The PPRP is making preparations for Gen Prayut to join campaign activities after the EC clarified last week that he can meet party candidates and voters but he must refrain from using his position, or state resources, in a manner that could advantage or disadvantage election candidates or political parties.
  • With campaigns entering their final weeks ahead of the 24 Mar 19 ballot, the PPRP hopes that Gen Prayut’s participation will provide a boost to their popularity. He is likely to join major campaign events in every region starting with the Northeast this weekend.
  • Gen Prayut remained non-committal when asked if he will attend the planned rally, saying the matter would have to be discussed.
  • PPRP leader Uttama Savanayana said that the party has made provisional plans for Gen Prayut to make his debut in Nakhon Ratchasima and close the campaign in Bangkok, but that they still depend on the prime minister’s acceptance.
  • Mr Uttama also dismissed concerns by an election watchdog group, which has said it plans to monitor Gen Prayut’s speeches and actions.
  • The Civic Election Participation Partnership (CEPP), a network of election watchdogs endorsed by the EC, earlier said it would pay special attention to Gen Prayut when he appears in the PPRP’s campaign activities to make sure he complies with the ruling of the EC.
  • Mr Sontirat expressed confidence that Gen Prayut’s participation would make the party’s election campaign complete while insisting that Gen Prayut will not take part in any policy debates due to the possible legal complications.
  • Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said he was not concerned about Gen Prayut’s participation in the PPRP election campaign because the EC had made it clear that it would not contravene the law.

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