EC to Rule Whether Prayuth Can Join TV Debate

Phalang Pracharat leaders on Monday unveil a book on junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha’s accomplishments.

BANGKOK — An Election Commissioner said Monday his office had to decide whether junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha can debate his opponents on TV for the upcoming election.

Itthiporn Boonprakong told reporters the commission will convene a meeting after it receives a formal request from Phalang Pracharat Party. Phalang Pracharat – which nominated the junta leader as its prime minister candidate – said it had asked the commission to rule on the issue, but Itthiporn said the document has yet to arrive.

“As soon as we receive the letter of request from Phalang Pracharat Party, we will put it to an Election Commission meeting,” Itthiporn said. “The meeting will make its decision based on relevant laws.”

Read: Politico Wants Prayuth Disqualified From Election Race

Many political parties have challenged Gen. Prayuth to face them in televised debates the way other election hopefuls have done in the past weeks and be subject to the same public scrutiny.

“For nearly five years, Gen. Prayuth has been communicating in one direction. He has not allowed anyone to express different opinions on the same platform,” Democrat Party member Ongart Klampaiboon told reporters. “Therefore, I’d like to ask Gen. Prayuth to share the same stage with other parties.”

“Today, no one’s afraid of facing Gen. Prayuth on a debate stage. What every party is dreaming of the most is debating Gen. Prayuth,” Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan said.

Phalang Pracharat spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the party would only send Prayuth on stage after the Election Commission grants them the permission to do so, citing fear of violating voting laws.

He also said politicos clamoring for a chance to engage in a war of words with the junta leader might regret it later.

“I’m confident Gen. Prayuth will be met with positive feedback from the people,” Thanakorn said. “And those who are challenging him to a debate will feel they made a mistake.”

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-gnam also said Prayuth is not engaging in the debate at the moment for legal concerns.

“If the [commission] said he can, then the matter is resolved,” Wissanu told reporters at Government House.