Bangkok governor resigns leading up to gubernatorial election

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Bangkok’s governor, Aswin Khwanmuang, announced that he will resign ahead of the upcoming gubernatorial election, fueling speculation that he might run as a candidate in the election.

He told reporters on Wednesday that he will hand in his resignation letter to the interior ministry on Thursday, ahead of the Election Commission’s (EC) official announcement of the election date in the capital.

The EC’s announcement is expected to take place on Friday as the election is scheduled for May 22, as approved by the Cabinet last week.

Aswin has yet to publicly announce whether he will run in the upcoming election, but he told reporters that he’ll answer further questions from the media at a press conference on Thursday.

Political experts expect him to run independently, as the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has yet to announce who they will support.

Aswin’s former deputy governor, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, resigned from his previous post on March 6 admitting that he plans on competing in the coming election. Analysts believe that the PPRP now has a choice between Aswin or Sakoltee. 

Labour minister and senior member of the PPRP, Suchart Chomklin, told reporters at government house on Wednesday that the party will discuss which candidate they will support at its meeting on April 3.

Aswin was appointed as governor via the absolute power of the previous junta leader and current Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-ocha.

Prayut used his sweeping powers under Section 44 of the interim charter drafted during the National Council for Peace and Order’s era to appoint Aswin as the 16th governor of Bangkok in October 2016. Since then, no gubernatorial election has taken place in the capital. 

If Aswin officially runs as a candidate, he will become the eighth candidate in the election.

A recent poll by Thammasat University’s Research and Consultancy Institute saw prominent candidates including the independent Chadchart Sittipunt, and Democrat candidate Suchatvee Suwansawat as front runners.

Other candidates include former Bangkok senator Rosana Tositrakul who is running independently, former Bangkok MP Sita Tiwari from the Thai Sang Thai Party, Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn who resigned as MP for the Move Forward Party to run as a candidate, and Prayoon Krongyoth from Thai Civilized Party.

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