Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva quit the parliament after his party, Thailand’s oldest, voted to join the junta-aligned coalition backing Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s bid to become prime minister.
In a secret ballot held at the party’s head office last night, the eve of a parliamentary vote on the next prime minister, the Democrats shifted the political landscape back into Prayuth’s corner following weeks of deadlock. After seeing the party he had led get off the fence on the other side from him, Abhisit said his conscience compelled him to resign from parliament.
“I refuse to walk into parliament and cast my vote for Prayuth Chan-o-cha, but I also refuse to cast a vote that goes against my party,” he said at Democrat Party headquarters. “For these reasons, I’ve decided to leave the parliament.”
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He also apologized to those who’d supported the party in hopes it would chart a course away from the military.
“I have to apologize to all my fellow citizens that chose the Democrat Party,” the 54-year-old said.
That means today’s vote pitting Prayuth against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the charismatic leader of the Future Forward Party, is unlikely to be a contest. Thanathorn is the nominee representing a seven-party coalition seeking to return power to the people from the junta.
The parliamentary session is underway and set to begin voting at 11am.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that Abhisit had quit the party. He in fact quit only the parliament.