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Wadah Looks To Ditch Pheu Thai
The Wadah faction was formed and led by Muhammad Wan Nor (left) and now is under the leadership of his won, Sugarno Matha. (FB/WanMuhamadnormatha)
March 23rd, 2018 | 09:57 AM | 355 views
Party Unfazed By Possible Breakaway
The Wadah faction of influential Muslim politicians in the deep South is seeking to break away from the Pheu Thai Party and form its own political party.
The group aims to snatch votes from the region dominated by the Democrat Party.
Observers note the breakaway could leave the Pheu Thai with no House seats left in the South. It remains to be seen if the group's new party will win enough seats and decide to join any possible coalition government after the general election that is expected in February of next year.
While members of the Pheu Thai are now preparing to confirm party memberships from April 1 under a Section 44 order, Sugarno Matha, a key figure in the Wadah group, appears ready to move on.
He said the group had gathered opinions from supporters in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat and decided to form a new party.
Mr Sugarno is a younger brother of Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, a former Pheu Thai MP for Yal. He also served as a former Interior Minister in the Thaksin Shinawatra government, and a leader of the Wadah group.
Mr Sugarno said the new party will bring back members of a Wadah faction who had defected to other parties including the Matubhum Party, led by former army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who staged the coup that ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.
Surapol Nakwanich, a close associate of Mr Wan Nor, recently applied to register a new party with the Election Commission. It was registered as the Prachachart Party.
Mr Sugarno said the new party will focus on tackling problems facing people in the deep South as many of its members are southerners who are well-acquainted with the problems there.
He said the party will field candidates in all constituencies in the South.
Addressing the prospect of joining a government after the election, Mr Sugarno said that would depend on how many House seats the new party wins. He predicted it would gain at least 10.
The party intends to get a share of the vote in the South with the Democrat Party, he said.
"We want it to be a true people's party. Those who join will not necessarily all be Muslims. We also have non-Muslims who work with us. We are confident we can solve the people's problems,'' Mr Sugarno said.
A Pheu Thai source said Thursday trhat acting leader Viroj Pao-in has been informing former MPs in the party to prepare to confirm their memberships since the middle of this month. Existing parties will be required to update their party memberships from April 1-30.
The source said this is mainly an administrative function but it will help to clarify who stays and who plans to defect.
Pheu Thai key member Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, who has been tipped to throw her hat in the ring to lead Pheu Thai. She said she respects the decision of the Wadah group and other party members who may choose to break away.
The South is not considered a strong voting base for Pheu Thai, so such breakaways would be unlikely to affect it much, she added.
Former Pheu Thai list-MP and red-shirt co-leader Korkaew Pikulthong said Pheu Thai would not compete with the Wadah group in the deep South in the upcoming election.
He said the new party would likely support the "undemocratic procedure" of allowing an outsider prime minister. It may well cooperate with Pheu Thai after the election, he added.
The Wadah group used to have as many as nine MPs in the deep South. It teamed up with the Democrats and the New Aspiration Party, led by Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, before moving to join the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party and, later, the Pheu Thai.
In the 2011 general election, the Wadah was completely wiped out in the three southernmost provinces in what was a shocking setback for members and supporters of the group, which once was hugely popular among Muslim voters in the far South.
Meanwhile, former Pheu Thai MP for Nong Bua Lamphu Chaiya Promma said most former Pheu Thai MPs in the Northeast would continue to stick with the Pheu Thai.
Sa-nguan Phongmanee, the former Pheu Thai MP for Lamphun, also expressed confidence that most former MPs in the North, another key support base for Pheu Thai, would remain loyal.
If the Wadah faction does break away it would impact the Pheu Thai's election bid in the South, he said.
courtesy of BANGKOK POST
by AEKARACH SATTABURUTH
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