News / Asia

Thailand Army Chief Now Prime Minister

  • Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks after he accepted a royal command issued by King Bhumibol Adulyadej certifying his appointment as the country's 29th premier in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • A soldier stands guard during the royal endorsement ceremony of Thailand's newly appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Army headquarters in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Workers trim bushes in preparation for the new cabinet at the Government House in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha opens a container before he accepts a royal endorsement certifying his appointment as the country's 29th premier, in front of the portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
Thailand Army Chief Now Prime Minister

The army general who led the May 22 coup in Thailand officially assumed the post as the kingdom’s prime minister Monday.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha bowed before a large photograph of King Bhumibol Adulyadej just after the reading of a palace decree naming him the kingdom’s 29th prime minister.

The acting secretary-general of the national legislative assembly, Norarat Pimsen, proclaimed the royal assent, stating, “His Majesty the King has endorsed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister to govern the country from this day forward.”

The general, over a span of three months, has imposed martial law, deposed the civilian government and appointed a legislature filled with military officers that unanimously selected him to become prime minister.

General Prayuth, immediately following Monday’s brief ceremony at Army headquarters, vowed to submit his selections for his cabinet in October for royal approval.

General Prayuth, still dressed in his formal white army uniform, speaking for the first time as prime minister said Thailand is confronted by many problems. He notes these need to be solved ahead of the realization next year of the ASEAN Economic Community, in which Thailand, as the region’s second-largest economy, is expected to play a leading role.

The 60-year-old general, who is due to retire from the army next month, is the first coup leader to serve as prime minister since 1957.

General Prayuth was also a key figure in the coup in 2006 that ousted then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire telecommunications tycoon whose political parties have won every national election for more than a decade.

His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was forced from office shortly before this year’s coup after an extended period of political turmoil.

Officials of the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, say General Prayuth wants to permanently eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra clan.

Thailand has been polarized between the mainly urban royalist elite and middle class who are strongly opposed to the Shinawatras and their main backers, who are mostly the rural poor.

With Thailand still under martial law, giving authorities broad powers to round up dissenters for interrogation, opposition to the junta has been effectively squelched inside the country.

Thai critics abroad, most of whom are now considered fugitives by the military government, have condemned General Prayuth's actions as an illegal power grab.

The coup has also been criticized by Western governments, which are urging a quick return to democracy.

The army chief has pledged to create a “Thai-style” democracy, which he contends “will return happiness to the people.”

The reform process, to be followed by elections, he has said will take at least one year.

In his seven-minute address Monday the general reiterated a call for qualified people to join the national reform council the junta is establishing. The new prime minister says he wants members from political and civic groups, economists, academics, civil servants and the media, among others.

General Prayuth declared, “I do not want anyone to be left behind in the democratic process.”

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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Comment Sorting
by: notdisappointed from: Bangkok, Thailand
September 05, 2014 12:02 AM
Reuters and VOA the mouthpieces of Western capitalism and Wall Street still get their facts wrong with their half-truths and prevarications.

Firstly it's not a "white military uniform", but a formal dress uniform for Government officials. By reiterating well-worn cliches and unsubstantiated hearsay about "protest by royalist establishment supporters" and "urban royalist elites and middle-class against the rural poor" and populist thaksin and his surrogates, these two biased and racially predjudiced reports harm rather than tell the truth.

thaksin's and his ilk bought his votes through fiscally irresponsible populist programs that were ill-plannned, poorly executed, and a drain to the tresury of the country. What people need is a more balanced reporting not one skewed to the establishment line of the Carlyle Group, Wall Street, and Western idealism.

Here's a couple of examples of 'forgotten' facts by Western journalists and VOA: what about the recent loss to the Thai tresury of Baht600Billion and the disappearance of 3,000,000 tons of 'populist' yingluck rice scheme. Or how about the graft seen in the construction of the International airport under thaksin regime of over Baht25Billion? What about truning the Thai democray to a 'kleptocracy' and democratic/parliamnetary dictatorship as can be seen in Cambodia? In the view of idealistics Western mindset - as long as it comes from elections, theft by government is legal and legitimate?

Let's have more balanced reporting please!

by: sonthi from: Bangkok
August 25, 2014 5:42 PM
Welcome to Tyrland
Land of Coup

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