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PM urged to confirm poll run

NCPO denies having any party aspirations

Pheu Thai Party's Phumtham Wechayachai (left) and the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva give thumbs up to the proposal that the military has the right to form a political party and put current Prime Minister Prayut forward in the coming elections. (Bangkok Post file photos)

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Politicians have called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to confirm whether he will run in the next general election.

Acting Pheu Thai Party secretary-general, Phumtham Wechayachai, said Thursday that Gen Prayut should make clear his position on the matter because as a government leader he has control over the mechanisms to hold elections.

A lack of clarity will cause misunderstandings, Mr Phumtham said, adding it would be welcome if Gen Prayut makes a decision to run in the next election and lets the public decide whether to vote for him to remain in office.

Mr Phumtham made the remarks following a recent Nida Poll survey in which most respondents favoured the military government setting up its own political party.

Some members of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) have resigned from the body amid reports they will form a new party to contest the next election.

Under the new charter, NRSA members wanting to run in the next election were required to resign within 90 days of the charter coming into effect which was on April 6.

Mr Phumtham also urged Gen Prayut to make sure election rules are fair to all parties, rather than favouring new ones in the future.

"If the military is keen to take part [in the polls] like political parties, they should announce and make clear their policies and viewpoints and let the public decide. This is democracy," Mr Phumtham said.

However, he also noted the prime minister could be criticised for trying to prolong his hold on power if he decides to run in the poll.

It would be better for him to clear away all the doubts to avoid any criticism, he said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Gen Prayut has the right to set up a party, though he must give an assurance that all parties will compete on a level political playing field without any particular party having special advantages over others.

However, army commander Chalermchai Sittisart denied rumours the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) intends to set up a political party to run in the next general election.

He said the aim of the NCPO and the armed forces is to maintain order and ensure the election takes place according to the time frame, which is expected to be sometime next year.

Asked if the NCPO will step down after the next poll, he said the council will abide by the law and constitution when a new elected government takes office.

Gen Chalermchai also denied that the controversial primary voting system proposed under the organic bill on political parties will cause delays with the election roadmap.

Also Thursday, Damrong Pidet tendered his resignation from the NRSA and said he is preparing to run in the next election.

A Thai Forest Land Reclamation Party leader, Mr Damrong denied reports his party will be among small parties planning to merge to rival the major parties in the next poll and hoped to be part of the next elected government.

NRSA spokesman Kamnoon Sidhisamarn revealed that a total of 17 NRSA members have resigned from the body.

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