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Prayut says he won’t quit over oath gaffe

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attends the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit plenary session in Bangkok, June 22, 2019. Xinhua

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insists he will not step down as pressure grows over the oath-taking controversy in which he failed to recite the full oath of office during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony last month.

“I definitely won’t quit. There will be no quitting,” he told a crowd of thousands in Buri Ram’s Muang district during a drought inspection tour in the northeastern province on Monday.

There were rumours that the prime minister might consider resigning after he said he would take “sole responsibility” during a keynote speech outlining government policies to cabinet ministers, senior officials and state enterprise executives at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi early this month.

Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said the prime minister’s remarks had nothing to do with the oath and that he was referring to his responsibilities under the constitution.

However, pressure is mounting for the prime minister to take responsibility with the opposition last week filing a motion seeking a parliamentary debate on the oath row. Section 152 of the constitution allows the House to question cabinet ministers and offer them proposals, without taking a vote.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, said on Monday “it would be good” if the New Economics Party (NEP) joined the government.

He was responding to speculation the NEP would defect to the government camp. The NEP with six MPs is currently part of the seven-party opposition bloc.

Its rumoured defection emerged as some microparties with one MP each threatened to pull their support for the government.

Asked if there was a deal to pull in at least some, if not all, of the NEP MPs, Gen Prawit said; “I have no idea. The deal has not been done and I do not know if they will come.”

The deputy prime minister is due to begin work as the Palang Pracharath Party’s chief strategist today, according the party’s MP for Chon Buri Suchart Chomklin.

Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, chief strategist of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said she would confirm where the NEP stands.

“I am not aware of the speculation. We had been in contact and joined a push for a constitution rewrite. It may only be a rumour. We must wait and see,” she said.

Pheu Thai on Monday welcomed three new members including actor Rattaphum “Film” Tokongsap into the party.

Mr Rattaphum and Natthapong Ropkhob quit as members of the Palang Thong Thin Thai Party (Thai Local Power Party) while Chaiwat Chindawat defected from the Thai Network Party.

The trio was welcomed by Pheu Thai heavyweights Khunying Sudarat and secretary-general Anudit Nakhonthap.

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