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Despite his recent declaration that he is now a politician and not a military man, PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday refused to rule out the potential for his becoming an “outside” PM after the next election. “You know well that I would eliminate myself by saying anything now. We don’t know what the future will be like,” Prayut said during a New Year’s luncheon.
“But the process for becoming an outside PM is laid out by the charter. If parties cannot settle for a certain PM choice in the parliament, the charter opens a way for an outside PM to be proposed.
“This is to eliminate the possibility of coup starting. There won’t be a coup any more since an outside PM will be selected in the parliament,” the junta premier said.
So far, he continued, no one has yet proposed to him that he should be an outside PM candidate.
“Since I became PM, I’ve lost all my private life,” he muttered.
According to the 2017 constitution, after an election the parties in the House put forward a list of three PM candidates for a parliamentary vote. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the Upper and Lower house may jointly “waive” selection of the PM from among party leaders and instead choose an outsider for the role.
With a new election mechanism, the majority of incoming MPs are expected to scatter among middle and small parties, while the whole Senate will be handpicked by the junta body, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Given this arithmetic, political observers speculate that the influence of major parties will be weakened following the election and the influence of the junta perpetuated.
Prayut meanwhile doubled down on his recent claim that neither he nor the junta government were military based.
“If we’re really a military government, all of us have to come from the military. Instead, we consist of both military people and civilians because we are under special circumstance,” he said.
He also said criticism against a government headed by him “would not exist” if it really were a strong-handed military government.
“If I really used my power, would politicians be able to talk to me like that?” he asked rhetorically.