BANGKOK — Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan on Monday said he was not involved in the mass resignation of executives from a pro-government political party, which media reports said was an attempt to name Prawit their new party leader.
Prawit, who is also the chief strategist of Phalang Pracharat Party, said he has not been informed about the resignation of the party’s executive members. He also evaded a reporter’s question about whether he would take the rein as the new leader of the Phalang Pracharat Party.
“I don’t know,” Gen. Prawit said. “I’m not involved with them.”
The resignation of the party’s 18 out of 34 executive members means the party is required by law to elect a new executive committee within 45 days. The process would also oust the party’s current leader, Uttama Savanayana, paving way for a new helmsman to be nominated.
Deputy party leader Paiboon Nititawan said he received the notice on Monday afternoon. He said the resignation is an internal matter of the party and has nothing to do with the government or the Cabinet.
“It’s the party’s internal affairs,” Paiboon said. “Change is normal for political parties, but it’s the Phalang Pracharat Party that doesn’t change.”
Incumbent party leader Uttama told reporters it was not the appropriate to discuss “about individuals.” He urged the media to focus on other topics that affect the country instead.
The abrupt resignation by the party executives followed days of media reports alleging a plot by some officials to replace Uttama with Gen. Prawit in the wake of an internal rift. Prawit, 74, is known as a “Big Brother” who commands widespread respect in the armed forces.
On Friday, leaders of the party’s Sam Mitr faction met with Prawit in a private meeting, raising speculations that they might have offered their support for Prawit’s party leadership bid.
The faction, led by industrial minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, justice minister Somsak Thepsuthin, and deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, consists of about 40 MPs. Many of them hold positions within the Cabinet.
Two other factions within the party were also seen in a meeting with the Sam Mitr faction on Sunday.