‘I’ve Made Myself Clear’: New Econ Party Refuses to Back Prayuth

Mingkwan Saengsuwan greets his supporters on Feb. 6, 2019, at a stadium in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — The leader of the New Economics Party left the fence Friday and declared he will not join the coalition which backs junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha as the next prime minister.

Ending weeks of ambiguity, party chairman Mingkwan Saengsuwan said at a news conference that he cannot support the pro-junta faction due to “ideological differences”. His declaration came amid rumours he would switch his allegiance to the junta-backed Phalang Pracharath Party’s coalition.

“The New Economics Party would like to declare our stance that we cannot join hands with Phalang Pracharath because of differences in our political ideologies,” the former commerce minister said.

Read: Pro- and Anti-Prayuth Parties Race to Form Coalitions

“I have made my stance clear on every stage. I’d like to insist that my stance and ideologies have not changed in any way,” he said.

Mingkwan, whose party is predicted to win six or seven MPs, said he’s committed to working with the “pro-democracy” faction.

When a reporter asked whether Mingkwan meant Pheu Thai Party, he replied, “I’ve made myself clear. I’ve not changed at all from the beginning to the end.”

Mingkwan Saengsuwan speaks at a news conference on April 19, 2019.

Political observers consider Mingkwan’s party to be a crucial “swing vote” needed by Pheu Thai to claim a razor-thin majority in the lower house.

Although Mingkwan has repeatedly rejected siding with Prayuth, his party was absent when Pheu Thai and its allies gathered to sign a pact and form a coalition three days after the election.

Some media agencies last week also claimed Mingkwan was plotting a defection to the Phalang Pracharath coalition in exchange for key positions in the next government. Mingkwan today denied the accusations.

“When I say no, it means no,” he told reporters.