Sudarat Denies Running for City Hall Against Popular Ex-Minister

Sudarat Keyuraphan and Chadchart Sittipunt at an event held by Pheu Thai Party on March 21, 2019.

BANGKOK — Pheu Thai senior leader Sudarat Keyuraphan said she would not be running in the gubernatorial election as reported by some media this past week. 

The news of Sudarat given a greenlight by party de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra to contest Bangkok’s top election riles up many in the Pheu Thai camp, who fear a bitter clash between Sudarat with former minister and self-proclaimed gubernatorial candidate Chadchart Sittipunt.

Speaking on a phone interview, Sudarat sought to dismiss concerns of an open conflict with Chadchart, who rose to internet fame as the transport minister in the Pheu Thai-led Cabinet back in 2012. 

“We are still trying to invite Chadchart for a talk. We still regard him as one of Pheu Thai members,” Sudarat said. 

In case she fails, Sudarat insists that her role would still be to look for another candidate and not to run in the election herself.

“That’s the party’s resolution,” she said. “I am tasked with looking for candidates for local elections in Bangkok and other areas. There has been no local Bangkok elections for six years. There are many problems and lack of participation.”

“Right now, there are also some from the private sector. But after this, we want those who want to change [Bangkok] to apply.”

But Chadchart said in a phone interview that he already rejected Pheu Thai’s offer for him to run under their auspices. 

“I want to be able to work with everyone. This is local politics and not about national policy,” the former minister said. “It’s not about the charter or drafting laws, which we cannot do at City Hall.”

The military junta suspended all local elections after they seized power from PM Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.

Junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in 2016 also removed Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra from duty, citing corruption allegations, and replaced him with the current governor, Aswin Kwanmuang. 

It is unclear when the gubernatorial election will take place, but government officials said it would likely happen “late this year.”