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Thailand’s Junta Prime Minister Rejects Calls to Relinquish Power Prior to Elections

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Junta leader and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha forcefully asserts his decision to stay in power throughout the election process, during a news conference at Government House Friday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has bluntly rejected calls by political parties to relinquish administrative power once he decides to run as a party’s candidate for the premiership after the general election.

His rejection comes only hours before the Palang Pracharath Party was due to formally invite him to be their candidate for Prime Minister.

Other parties, including Pheu Thai and the Democrats, have demanded he step down if he accepts a party’s invitation, arguing it would boost lagging confidence that all parties would contest the March 24 polls on an equal footing.

“They cannot pressure me,” an emotional prime minister told a news conference promoting the government’s efforts during the past four years and nine months. “I challenge their call, and I will not quit.”

Gen Prayut, who seized power by military coup, said former US president Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not step down when they were seeking another term in office.

He also pointed out that the Democrat Party ran the country but still lost to Pheu Thai in the 2011 general election, to substantiate his argument that the incumbent government does not have an edge.

Palang Pracharath leader Utama Savanayana, until this week industry minister in the Prayut cabinet, was to meet with the prime minister after working hours on Friday and ask him to stand as a candidate for the prime ministership.

The party decided on Wednesday to invite him to be one of its three candidates.

By Wassana Nanuam
The Bangkok Post