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Pro-junta Thai party moves to seal governing coalition

Members of Parliament who are part of the pro-junta political party Palang Pracharath join a meeting to vote for the new Speaker of the House of Representatives of Parliament, at the Telephone Organization of Thailand building, in Bangkok, on May 25, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

BANGKOK, May 27, 2019, The Straits Times. Thailand’s pro-junta Palang Pracharath Party moved to seal a coalition on Monday (May 27) to propel it towards a Lower House majority and comfortably extend Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s term at the helm, reported The Straits Times.

Party leader Uttama Savanayana, accompanied by his executives, turned up at the Democrat Party’s headquarters in Bangkok on Monday morning to invite the party to join its coalition.

He is due to do the same at Bhumjaithai Party’s headquarters in the afternoon, formalising a deal with the two “kingmaker” parties that will likely give the coalition control of more than half of the 500 seats in the House of Representatives.

Palang Pracharath, led by four former members of Mr Prayut’s Cabinet, emerged runner-up in the March 24 election with 115 seats. The Democrats wield 52 seats, and Bhumjaithai, 51.

Before Monday, at least 16 smaller parties had indicated support for Palang Pracharath.

A rival coalition led by former ruling Pheu Thai Party – which has vowed to fight what it calls an extension of military power – has mustered just 245 seats.

Thailand has been ruled by a military government ever since a 2014 coup led by then army chief Prayut topped the Pheu Thai-led government.

A new Charter drafted after that gave an appointed 250-member Senate the power to choose the future premier alongside the Lower House. This gives Mr Prayut, who is Palang Pracharath’s prime minister nominee, an advantage over rivals.

Dr Uttama, in a Facebook post on Sunday, said: “We need to ease people’s hardship and restore the economy urgently.

“These three parties, together with other parties in the coalition, will show a picture of unity, to overcome conflict and allow the country the move forward again.”

His coalition looked likely last Saturday at the first meeting of Lower House, when Palang Pracharath and its allies voted en masse to support Democrat adviser and former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, 80, as Speaker.

Mr Chuan beat Pheu Thai’s Sompong Amornwiwat 258 votes to 235.

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