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Abhisit 'won't back' Prayut return as PM

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (in white shirt) accepts flowers from party supporters during a campaign rally in Laksi district in northern Bangkok. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

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Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva took a political stance Sunday against Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha returning to power as prime minister after the March 24 election, drawing instant criticism from both the anti-regime Pheu Thai Party and the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

Mr Abhisit uploaded a brief video clip, lasting 33 seconds, on his Facebook page in which he made it clear he would not support Gen Prayut, who is the PPRP's sole prime ministerial candidate.

"I will definitely not support Gen Prayut because [his] prolonged stay in power will create conflicts and it is against my party's ideology which puts the people first," he said.

After five years under Gen Prayut's leadership, the economy is in poor shape and the country has suffered badly."

The release of the clip came with the March 24 general election likely to come down to a race between the pro-democracy bloc and the pro-regime camp.

However, Mr Abhisit's announcement was treated with scepticism within the Pheu Thai Party with key party figure Anusorn Iamsa-ard suggesting there are only two camps in this election — for or against Gen Prayut's return to power — and demanding to know if Mr Abhisit was speaking on behalf of his party, and calling on Democrat executives to endorse the statement as an official stance.

The PPRP also responded negatively as Suriya Juangroongruangkit, who is in charge of election strategy in the Northeast, said: "There are only three [parties tipped to form the core of a coalition government] which are the PPRP, the Pheu Thai, and the Democrats. Does this mean he is joining hands with the Pheu Thai Party?" he said.

Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said Mr Abhisit's announcement might have been the result of a survey which predicted the Democrat Party would win fewer than 100 MP seats.


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