All Eyes Fix on Thaksin Ally’s Mysterious PM Frontrunner

Thai Raksa Chart party officials talk to reporters on Feb. 5

BANGKOK — Much of the internet and media spent Thursday speculating over who will be announced as the prime minister candidate for a party allied to former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

While other major political parties have revealed their candidates to lead the next government, Thai Raksa Chart has kept its list tightly held and has only hinted that it will be an earth-shattering “surprise,” fueling fervent speculation and rumors over who will get the nod.

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The torrent of rumors comes as word the party backing ongoing military rule now faces bleak prospects. One of its potential candidates joined a number of prospective nominees to withdraw from the race, while junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha has been tempering expectations he will accept their nomination.

“Please wait for Feb. 8,” Thai Raksa Chart chairman Preechapol Pongpanich said.

Like other media outlets handling the information with an abundance of caution, Khaosod English cannot yet confirm any of the rumors.

Speculation about Thai Raksa Chart’s nomination began after the party said it would only formally submit its names to the Election Commission on Friday – the last day possible – instead of announcing it at their party headquarters as other parties have done.

On Twitter, Thai Raksa Chart was among the top-trending Thai topics. Party officials held a highly anticipated news conference earlier today, but only discussed internal matters and did not divulge any key information, much to the the chagrin of political observers perched on the edge of their seats.

Some time in the afternoon, a document purportedly showing the name of the would-be nominee was posted to the internet, but Thai Raksa Chart said it was a fake.

Friday also marked the last day Gen. Prayuth can give his answer to the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party’s invitation to run on the top of its ticket, an announcement that until recently was considered fait accompli.

Although the junta chairman has long hinted at running for the next term as prime minister, he abruptly changed his tune last week, saying he would have to think about it.

And just as some in Phalang Pracharat were floating the idea of a Plan B by nominating Prayuth’s economic czar Somkid Jatusripitak for the job instead, Somkid himself announced today he would not accept.

Speaking to reporters, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs said he dropped out in order to make way for Prayuth to be the lone candidate.

“I only support one name: Gen. Prayuth,” Somkid said. “This is my answer. Don’t ask me again. It’s over. No need for interpretation.”

The Action Coalition for Thailand Party, which is aligned with Thaksin’s political opponents, also announced today it would not nominate anyone to be prime minister. The party said it would support Prayuth as the next premier if he runs.

Sources inside Thai Raksa Chart said party leader Preechapol will arrive at the Election Commission office tomorrow at 9.10am with the nomination. At roughly the same time, Phalang Pracharat executives will visit Gen. Prayuth at the Government House to hear his answer.