Thai army chief named prime minister

2014-08-21 10:48
Thai Army Chief Prayuth Chan-O-Cha salutes during the military anniversary's 21st Infantry Regiment in Chonburi province. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

Thai Army Chief Prayuth Chan-O-Cha salutes during the military anniversary's 21st Infantry Regiment in Chonburi province. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Thailand's junta-picked national assembly on Thursday chose coup leader General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha as prime minister in a one-horse race that entrenched the military's hold on power.

Nobody in the rubber-stamp legislature opposed the selection of the army chief, who ousted an elected government in a bloodless takeover on 22 May.

The move by the top general to shed his uniform and take the premiership is seen as cementing the military's control of the politically turbulent nation.

The junta has ruled out holding new elections before around October 2015, despite appeals from the United States and the European Union for a return to democracy.

Prayuth, who is due to retire as army chief in September, is seen as a staunch opponent of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow in an earlier coup in 2006 triggered Thailand's long-running political crisis.

Thaksin, the elder brother of Yingluck, fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid prison for a corruption conviction.

Reform or repression?

The army rulers say they want to reform Thailand to end years of political turbulence and street violence, but critics see the takeover as an attempt to wipe out Thaksin's influence.

The junta has vowed to remain in place in parallel to the future government, which will be nominated by Prayuth as prime minister.

He was backed by 191 members of the 197-strong assembly, with three abstentions and three voters absent. No other candidate stood against him.

Prayuth's appointment must be approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej although royal endorsement is seen as a formality.

The army chief, who is seen as a fervent royalist, was not present for the vote because he was attending a military ceremony outside Bangkok.

He gave a hint of his political ambitions when he swapped his uniform for a suit and tie to appear in parliament on Monday to oversee the approval of the national budget, which was waved through with no opposition.

Prayuth is often described as the architect of an army crackdown on a pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" rally in Bangkok in 2010 that left dozens dead.

Before seizing power, the golf lover and father of twin daughters had said he would not allow Thailand to become another "Ukraine or Egypt".

Thaksin, who is reviled by much of Thailand's Bangkok-based royalist elite, lives in Dubai but he or his parties have won every election since 2001.

Since seizing power the junta has abrogated the constitution, curtailed civil liberties under martial law and summoned hundreds of opponents, activists and academics for questioning.

He has also launched a "return happiness" to the people public relations campaign in parallel with the crackdown on dissent.

The United Nations' human rights office on Wednesday warned of "chilling effects" on freedom of expression under the junta, following recent arrests and jail sentences for insulting the monarchy.

Critics say the royal slur legislation has been politicised, noting that many of those charged in recent years were linked to the "Red Shirts", who are broadly supportive of Thaksin.

Read more on:    yingluck shinawatra  |  thaksin shinawatra  |  prayuth chan-ocha  |  thailand

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.