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Turbulent Thailand

Thai pro-junta party invites Prayuth to run as premier

The offer paves way for the junta chief to remain in power

Pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party said it wants Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to run as one of its candidates for the premiership in the general election on March 24.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party announced on Wednesday that it wants Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to run as one of its candidates for the premiership in the general election on March 24, paving the way for the military to continue running Thailand.

The party will send an invitation letter to Prayuth. Thai political parties must present up to three prime ministerial candidates to campaign with and to push on for the premiership if they win. Parties must provide the candidate list to the Election Commission between Feb. 4 and Feb. 8.

Prayuth has indicated interest in continuing his political career, but never specified in what capacity. When he was asked recently by reporters if he would remain in power, he repeatedly dodged the question by saying he had not received any invitation from any party. 

Prayuth came into power in a coup in May 2014 that ousted Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin who was her predecessor. Prayuth's near five-year rule brought Thailand law and order, and economic recovery through some of the infrastructure projects, and the innovation initiative Thailand 4.0.

But he has also faced criticism for his authoritarian rule under which freedom of speech and political activities have been curtailed. He has also been criticized for repeatedly postponing the general election. Prayuth's image will influence votes for the Palang Pracharat Party, if he decides to accept the offer.

The party said that it will also send an invitation to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Uttama Savanayana, party leader and former Minister of Industry, will be its other candidate.

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