Former Pheu Thai MPs in Ubon Ratchathani who have defected to a pro-junta party plan to welcome Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha when he visits the northeastern province early next week.
Former deputy interior minister Supol Fong-ngam and his fellow former Ubon MP Suthichai Charoonnet and former Pheu Thai party-list MP Adisak Phokkulakanont have defected to Palang Pracharat, which plans to nominate Prayut for prime minister in the next general election.
The Cabinet is scheduled to meet in Ubon on July 23 and Amnat Charoen on July 24.
Prayut on Tuesday asked that his every move not be interpreted as politically motivated. He said the Cabinet trek to the Northeast coincided with following up on government development projects there.
“This government has no political aims,” he told reporters at Government House. “Politics is for the people involved in it and I have nothing to do with it.”
The three ex-Pheu Thai stalwarts will lead Palang Pracharat candidates from all of Ubon’s 10 constituencies in greeting Prayut, a source said. Candidates have also defected from the Chart Thai and Chart Pattana parties.
Supol said on Tuesday that he and his colleagues were awaiting a formal invitation to a function welcoming Prayut organised by provincial authorities.
He said the mobile Cabinet meeting would benefit Ubon, bringing more development funds.
He noted there were several projects requiring Cabinet approval. These include a new bridge across the Mekong River, a double-track railway linking Ubon and Nakhon Ratchasima, a warehouse for products traded with Indochina, a four-lane road, a sports centre, and expansion of a state-run hospital.
Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said on Tuesday that the Cabinet Secretariat and the Office of the PM’s Secretary normally decide whether to invite local politicians and bureaucrats to meet the prime minister during his visits.
Anupong said the premier wanted to stay informed about local needs and problems and there was no political motive behind meeting with local politicians.
Nattawut Saikua, a red-shirt leader and Pheu Thai politician, said red-shirt figures in the Northeast had every right to defect to Palang Pracharat.
He was commenting on a report that former Pheu Thai MP Suporn Atthawong, another red-shirt leader in the Northeast, was doing so.
He noted, though, that while many Pheu Thai ex-MPs were leaving, “three or four times” as many political newcomers were interested in joining Pheu Thai.