Thai prime minister expected to win no-confidence vote


BANGKOK – Thai lawmakers are due to vote Saturday on no-confidence motions filed against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and five members of his cabinet, after four days of opposition criticism was overshadowed by intoxicating speculation his own allies might try to knock him down.

Little attention has been paid to the details of the opposition’s harsh accusations that the Prayuth administration botched the coronavirus response, tolerated corruption and mismanaged the economy.

The Thai media were rather buzzing with rumors that the ruling party’s secretary general, Army-backed Palang Pracharath, who formed the coalition government that appointed Prayuth prime minister two years ago, was leading the efforts to overthrow it and withdraw the main opposition. Pheu Thai party in the coalition.

Still, Prayuth and his colleagues are expected to win by securing a majority in the House of Representatives, which currently has 482 members.

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What has lent some credibility to the rumors is the grim reputation of Palang Pracharath’s general secretary, Thammanat Prompao, who is deputy agriculture minister in Prayuth’s cabinet despite his conviction in Australia in the 1990s for involvement in heroin trafficking. He is held in the highest regard as a political power broker who can get the vote in northern Thailand.

There has been no public confirmation of the rumors, which on Thursday included an accusation that Prayuth’s side was paying large sums to secure the support of lawmakers – a charge he flatly denied. “Everyone came to greet me. As I barely met them, they just came to support me. I would not do such a stupid thing (pay money), ”he told the opposition in Parliament.

At the same time, street protests put pressure on Prayuth to step down. Pro-democracy activists have been calling for his resignation since last year and have stepped up their efforts in recent weeks. Major rallies, while not huge, have taken place over the past week in defiance of limitations on the size of public gatherings as a virus-fighting measure.

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Prayuth and his government have survived two previous no-confidence debates since being appointed prime minister after the 2019 general election. But he is now considered vulnerable due to his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, in particularly its inability to ensure timely and adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.

He did not face such challenges when he was head of the junta and prime minister of a military regime installed after staging a coup as army commander in 2014, toppling a government elected.

Other Cabinet members targeted this time were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul and Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob of the Bhumjai Thai Party, Minister of Labor Suchat Chomklin and Minister of Digital Economy Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn de Palang Pracharath, and Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on of the Democratic Party.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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