Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has accepted his party’s nomination and will stand for re-election on May 14, Al Jazeera reported.
Former general Prayuth, 69, has pledged to create a new political environment that ends decades of turmoil. He is running for office with the recently founded United Thai Nation Party.
The incumbent, in power since 2014 when the military overthrew a civilian government, brought in five years of army-enforced stability, Al Jazeera reported.
But after he was selected Thailand’s civilian leader after the 2019 election, there were new outbursts of violence as his government used heavy-handed measures to try to curb student-led pro-democracy demonstrations, the report said.
The second contender for prime minister in the party’s nomination is party leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.
Thailand has seen political unrest ever since the army overthrew populist Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s administration in a coup in 2006.
Prayuth will likely face the Pheu Thai party’s Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter and niece of two former prime ministers from the billionaire family.
According to Al Jazeera, Thailand’s election is set to be a showdown between an elite establishment and pro-democracy forces that have dominated politics in the Southeast Asian country for decades.
Prayuth’s path back to the top appears difficult. He is significantly behind Shinawatra in the polls, as well as a candidate for the progressive party.
In every election since 2001, Thaksin-affiliated populist parties have taken home the majority of seats.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is regarded as a tough political operative, is another opponent for Prayuth, read a report published in Al Jazeera.
The two former army comrades lately drifted apart after Prayuth joined the United Thai Nation party, but Prawit stayed with Palang Pracharath, the biggest party in the government coalition.
In Thailand, the prime minister is chosen by a joint session of both chambers of parliament and not by popular voting.
The 250-seat Senate will probably vote unanimously in favour of a conservative nominee. In 2019, Prayuth had the unanimous support of the Senate.
The military veteran, although trailing opponents in opinion polls, is hoping to gain support by promising to defend the monarchy, increase national stability, and watch out for the welfare of the populace.
Prayuth said in a speech, “We will create a new political climate,” before 1,000 supporters at a convention centre on the outskirts of Bangkok on Saturday, barely a week after he dissolved parliament to set the May 14 election date.
He said, “We will have policies that address issues of the people and the country, and most importantly – and I only need to say one word, I don’t need to expand or anything – we will move beyond conflict.”
He also said, “We cannot have any more conflict,” adding, “In the decades that have passed, there have been problems. Don’t forget. Don’t have short-term memory. We cannot let it happen again,” Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)