July 21, 2023
BANGKOK – Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul on Thursday reiterated that he would not join a Pheu Thai coalition if the Move Forward Party remains a partner.
Anutin, the outgoing public health minister, said he had not been approached by Pheu Thai so far to join its coalition.
Reporters sought Anutin’s comments after Move Forward passed on the baton to Pheu Thai, the second largest party in terms of number of MPs, to try to form a coalition government.
On Wednesday, Move Forward failed in its second bid to get Pita Limjaroenrat elected as the next prime minister because Move Forward opponents, mostly senators, blocked the resubmission of a failed candidate’s name.
When asked about Bhumjaithai’s stand on joining the coalition, Anutin replied:
“It’s still the same as what the party had announced. We cannot work with a party that has a policy to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code and we don’t support a minority government.”
He said Bhumjaithai would wait for the political situation to unfold first as the eight partners of the Move Forward-led coalition have not announced their disbandment or scrapped their memorandum of understanding.
The upper House proved by its success in blocking the resubmission of Pita’s candidature for PM on Wednesday that it could block Move Forward from leading or joining a government.
Currently there are 499 MPs, after Pita was suspended from duty by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday, and 249 senators after one senator quit.
The Move Forward-led coalition has 311 MPs after Pita was suspended, so it would have to win 63 more votes from either senators or MPs outside the bloc. Most senators said they would not vote for the Pheu Thai coalition if Move Forward remained a partner because the Senate would not tolerate any attempt to amend Article 112 or the lese majeste law.
When reporters came up with similar questions again and again, Anutin told them to ask Pheu Thai instead. Anutin said that Pheu Thai was in the process of forming its coalition government and it would be politically impolite for him to comment on Pheu Thai’s affairs.
When asked whether Bhumjaithai would join forces with Palang Pracharath to help Pheu Thai form a government, since the two are the third and four-largest parties in Parliament, Anutin replied: “Let that day arrive first. But you must ask the one that is forming the government whether there will be an impasse or not.”
Bhumjaithai won 71 seats and Palang Pracharath got 40, compared to 151 of Move Forward and 141 of Pheu Thai. Without Pita’s active status, Move Forward now has 150 MPs.
Anutin said he had not held any political talks with Palang Pracharath leader General Prawit Wonsuwan recently.
He added that Bhumjaithai would hold a meeting of its MPs on Wednesday, a day before the next PM vote on Thursday.