Prawit, Somkid deny NCPO-backed party being set up

Deputy prime ministers Prawit Wongsuwon and Somkid Jatusripitak have denied a report that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) may set up a nominee party to push for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to be prime minister after the next general election.

Their denial came on Monday (Dec 18) after Vachara Phetthong, a former Democrat Party MP, said that the NCPO would set up a nominee party in the name of Pracharat, with Mr Somkid as the leader.

Mr Vachara made this remarks amid speculations that the nominee party, with support from the NCPO, would push Gen Prayut for the prime minister’s post after the general election.

In a separate issue, Pornpetch Wichitcholachai, president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), said the NLA was still undecided whether to amend Sections 140-141 of the Political Party Act regarding members of political parties as proposed by Paiboon Nititawan, core member of the People’s Network for Reform and Suthep Thaugsuban, chairman of the Muan Maha Prachachon Foundation for Thailand’s reform.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said some agencies, including the NCPO, are talking about amending the Political Party Act to allow political parties more time to carry out some legal requirements, particularly the requirement for political parties to report changes of membership to the party registrar in 90 days or by Jan 5, 2018.

There are two ways of amending the Political Party Act. The first way is by proposing an amendment to the law according to an ordinary parliamentary process, which is usually time-consuming and unlikely to happen. The other way is for the NCPO to amend the law by issueing an order under Section 44 of the 2014 interim constitution, which is still in force under the current constitution.

The matter is for the NCPO to decide, Mr Wissanu said.