The hinting and teasing are over.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha today ended weeks of speculation by announcing he would jump ship from the party created to usher him into power under rules favoring military-aligned rule for a new political party.
The former junta leader who overthrew the last fully civilian government in 2014 said he will seek the premiership again with the newly formed Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party when general elections take place as scheduled in May.
“The Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party has proposed that it is willing to support me as the prime minister in the next election,” Prayuth said at the Government House this morning. “So, today, I decided to make it known publicly that I will move to the Ruam Thai Sang Thai party.”
The official date Prayuth would join the party was not immediately clear.
The retired army general insisted that there was no conflict between him and his long-time No. 2, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, who leads the ruling, pro-military Phalang Pracharath Party and has played an essential role in cementing Prayuth’s power the past eight years.
Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party was founded last year by Prayuth loyalist Seksakol Atthawong.
Even if Prayuth manages to win another term under the 2017 constitution his junta engineered to favor ongoing military rule, his staying power is uncertain, as the highest political court has ruled he must vacate the Government House in April 2025.
He was suspended from office for several weeks earlier this year while the Constitutional Court reviewed whether he had exceeded his constitutionally mandated eight-year term.
He was reinstated by judges who ruled that his term began only after that constitution came into effect in April 2017.