Clock Ticking on Junta Party’s PM Offer to Prayuth

Sowing seeds of doubt? Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha shows reporters a tree he just planted today in Yasothon province

BANGKOK — Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha has not yet decided whether to accept the nomination to serve as prime minister, the party who extended the offer said Wednesday.

Although Prayuth was asked last week to be Palang Pracharat Party’s candidate for prime minister, the junta leader has not given any reply to them, party chairman Uttama Savanayana told reporters today. Friday is the last day for political parties to submit their nominations for the top job.

“I can’t really evaluate that because I have to respect Gen. Prayuth’s deliberation,” Uttama said when asked if Prayuth might say no.

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Asked whether Prayuth’s rejection would affect the party’s Election Day prospects, the party leader said he did not want to offer any speculation at this time.

“But we want to make this party a permanent thing, not only something temporary,” said Uttama, who served as energy minister on Prayuth’s cabinet until his resignation last month. “But personally I believe Gen. Prayuth will accept. I have confidence in him.”

Palang Pracharat has explicitly supported Prayuth remaining in power for another term as prime minister. Prayuth, who has held the job since leading a coup five years ago, has talked openly about a political future and embraced a more conventional image in the past two years.

But when he was offered the nomination, Prayuth requested more time to think. Speaking to reporters at his usual Tuesday briefing, the junta leader even struck a melancholy tone by saying he has steeled himself to the possibility he won’t get to serve another term.

“I’m prepared for every event. I’m prepared for everything,” Prayuth told reporters. “It’s up to whoever the people want to vote for.”

The junta leader is on a trip Wednesday to Yasothon province where he visited local agricultural projects.