Thai ruling party names senior coup leader as PM candidate
Bangkok, Jan 27 (EFE).- Thailand’s ruling party, Palang Pracharat, on Friday nominated current deputy prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwon, as its candidate for elections scheduled in May.
Prawit, who was implicated in a corruption scandal in 2017 over undeclared assets and is known to have a penchant for luxury watches, has been accused of being one of the leaders of the military coup in 2014.
The deputy prime minister has been a close ally of current PM Prayut Chan-ocha, and was a member of his military junta from 2014 to 2019.
Palang Pracharat, which leads the ruling pro-military coalition, announced the decision on social media after holding a low-key ceremony in Bangkok which Prawit, 78, a former army commander-in-chief (2004-2005), did not attend.
Prawit is set to take on his former protégé Prayut, who recently announced that he would be running for the United Thai Nation party.
In 2017, Prawit was embroiled in controversy after he was found to own a large collection of luxury watches that he said were gifts from friends.
He was even seen with some 25 watches from brands such as Richard Mille, Rolex and Patek Philippe worth more than $1 million and went on to declare a net worth of 87 million baht ($2.65 million or €2.43 million) despite the low salaries offered by the Thai Army.
However, Thailand’s Anti-Corruption Commission found no indication of wrongdoing.
Prawit and Prayut are expected to face Paetongtarn Shinawatra, of the opposition Pheu Thai party and daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a military coup in 2006 and who now lives in exile.
Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck, won the election in 2011 but was overthrown by Prayut in 2014 and also went into exile.
Another major player in the election landscape is Move Forward, which surprisingly became the third most voted party in 2019 barely a year after being founded, but a series of judicial cases has weakened the progressive party that is particularly popular among younger generations. EFE