PPRP toils to keep minnows in coalition

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Representatives of 10 small political parties announce their political position demand in Bangkok in June. Bangkok Post

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has decided to award a “political position” to a small coalition party bloc as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha prepares to hold clear-the-air talks with the group later this week following their threat to withdraw support for the government.

A number of the 10 small parties are not happy with the current allocation of government posts and are reportedly threatening to serve independently as “people’s MPs”.

Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, leader of the Thai Civilized Party, has already announced his decision to pull support.

In a bid to prevent the dispute from escalating, PPRP heavyweights have decided to award a ministerial assistant post to the Palang Thong Thin Thai Party (PTTT), said a government source.

Chuenchob Khong-udom, son of PTTT leader and list-MP Chatchawal Khong-udom, will be nominated for the post, according to the source. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will decide which ministry Mr Chuenchob will be assigned to.

The ministerial adviser and assistant appointments for all 19 coalition parties are likely to be forwarded to the cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

The source said Gen Prayut will hold talks with the small parties’ representatives on Thursday to clear the air, although Mr Mongkolkit insisted on Monday: “It’s too late, there is no turning back,” even though Senator Thawatchai Samutsakhon, said to be close to Gen Prayut, has offered to mediate.

Mr Mongkolkit said his party’s decision to pull out of the coalition has more to do with policies than the allocation of positions.

The Thai Civilized Party’s executive board will on Tuesday hold a press conference to announce the move, he added.

It is reported that the nine other small parties will also make announcements on the matter in the afternoon.

Suratin Picharn, a list-MP and the leader of the Prachathippatai Mai Party, on Monday played down talk of rifts in the coalition, saying the small parties will stick with the PPRP-led government.

However, he said there are issues that need to be resolved and the bloc will raise those problems with the prime minister this week. He added that all the 19 parties in the PPRP-led coalition should be represented in the government whip.

PPRP secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong said on Monday he was unaware of Mr Mongkolkit’s decision but noted that the upcoming talks were arranged to iron out issues which threaten to undermine the coalition.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thammanat Prompow, who has been assigned by the PPRP to mend the rift, said he respects the Thai Civilized Party but there is nothing he can do if Mr Mongkolkit decides to turn his back on the government.

In a related development, the PPRP is expected to name Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as chief of the party’s strategic committee, after a meeting of key party figures approved the move in line with a restructuring of the party’s executive board.

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