Infighting in the ruling party continues as Prayut keeps his distance

Infighting continued in the Palang Pracharat party on Tuesday after a mass resignation forced the party to hold a new leadership contest.

Eighteen members of party’s executive committee resigned on Monday triggering a leadership contest between incumbent party leader Uttama Savanayana and deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan with an internal election to take place within 45 days.

Despite the public infighting, both Uttama and Deputy Party Leader Paibul Nititawan said that the party was not divided but they were just “having a difference of opinion.”

Paibul said on Tuesday to local media that General Prawit was the most suitable person for the new leadership post, breaking with former ally Uttama.

“He has a lot of influence and prestige and is very generous,” Paibul said.

General Prawit is seen by many analysts as one of the masterminds of the 2014 military coup.

Party insiders who asked not to be named told Thai Enquirer on Tuesday that Prawit probably has around 60 votes in a leadership contest compared to Uttama’s 20-30 votes.

Paibul told Thai Enquirer that now was not the time for politics and that he was unsure how the change in leadership will affect the cabinet and the coalition government.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who was backed by the party as an outsider PM, said he had nothing to do with the leadership struggle and tried to distance himself from the fray.

“I am not a member of that party, it is the party’s affair, and it’s got nothing to do with the cabinet,” he said.

Prayut said that any talk of a cabinet reshuffle is best reserved for later.

(Reporting by Erich Parpart and James Wilson. Additional Reporting by Cod Satrusayang)

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