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Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been named the new prime minister of Thailand.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, 60, was nominated on August 21 in a legislature hand-picked by the junta and made up of mostly military and police figures.
The general was the head of the army when he led a dramatic coup in May.
It followed months of intense political deadlock between Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and opposition parties that resulted in protests and clashes.
Prayuth Chan-ocha was chosen after all 197 members of Thailand’s National Assembly cast their votes on Thursday morning.
The vote in Parliament was little more than a formality, lasting just 15 minutes, as Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha was the only candidate.
The assembly’s choice is expected to be approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej later.
Although his role is meant to be an interim one as Prayuth Chn-ocha plans to hold a general election in late 2015.
Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been named the new prime minister of Thailand (photo AP)
He now wields enormous power and also still heads the military junta.
Prayuth Chn-ocha is expected to pick his new cabinet soon.
He has promised a root and branch reform of politics to prevent a return to the turmoil of recent years, offering a possible restoration of democratic rule next year.
However, critics believe his real priority is to destroy the political party of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, which has won every election for the past 14 years, and to secure a delicate royal succession.
Such goals would require a much longer democratic timetable.
Concerns have mounted that the military is seeking to strengthen its hold on the country.
Besides hand-picking the national assembly, the junta issued an interim constitution in July that gives the military sweeping powers.
It is appointing a national reform council that would help to come up with a permanent constitution that would take effect by July 2015.
Prayuth Chan-ocha and junta officials have argued that military rule has brought stability to Thailand following months of violent protests between the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps.
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Thailand’s military leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has announced that new elections will only take place after October 2015.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha made the announcement in a speech that an interim constitution would be adopted next month.
A temporary cabinet would then govern until elections next year.
The military seized power on May 22, saying it wanted to return stability to Thailand after months of political and social unrest.
Since then, Thailand has been run by a military junta called the National Council for Peace and Order. It insists it is a neutral player among the country’s rival political factions.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said any new election in Thailand would have to take place under a new constitution (photo Reuters)
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup, said any new election would have to take place under a new constitution, which would be drafted by an appointed body.
“We want to see an election that will take place under the new constitution… that will be free and fair, so that it can become a solid foundation for a complete Thai democracy,” he said in a televised address.
“Today, if we go ahead and hold a general election, it will lead to a situation that creates conflict and the country will return to the old cycle of conflict, violence, corruption by influential groups in politics, terrorism and the use of war weapons” he added.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha also denied reports that the coup was planned in advance with anti-government protest leaders.
“I did not join any process or take part with any side”, he said.
The denial came after reports that protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said that he had discussed overthrowing the government with Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha many times in recent years.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and the army took over two weeks after PM Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from her role by a controversial court ruling.
Thailand’s military coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said elections will not be held for more than a year, to allow time for political reconciliation and reform.
In a televised address, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha called on all sides to co-operate and stop protesting.
He repeated warnings against any resistance to the military.
Thailand’s military coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said elections will not be held for more than a year, to allow time for political reconciliation and reform (photo Reuters)
The Thai army seized power on May 22, and detained senior politicians for several days saying stability had to be restored after months of unrest.
In his first public address since the coup, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “The ruling military regime have a timeframe of one year and three months to move towards elections.
“Enough time has been wasted on conflict.”
He said a first phase of about three months would focus on “reconciliation” with a cabinet and new draft constitution put in place.
Reforms would then be introduced over a second, year-long, period and only after this could elections be held.
“Give us time to solve the problems for you. Then the soldiers will step back to look at Thailand from afar,” he added.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has previously warned that if protests continued he would have no choice but to use force.
In his address he repeated the warnings, saying resistance would only slow the process of bringing “happiness” back to the Thai people.
Also on Friday, hundreds of troops sealed off a major Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour to prevent a possible protest.
Thailand’s military stepped in after six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
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Thai coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in the capital, Bangkok, after taking power in a coup last week.
Prayuth Chan-ocha was formally appointed to run the nation at the army headquarters.
The 86-year-old monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, did not attend the ceremony.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in Bangkok
The military seized power in the South East Asian nation last week, saying it planned to return stability to Thailand after months of unrest.
The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
But the coup – which removed an elected government – has drawn widespread international criticism.
Small anti-coup protests took place in Bangkok over the weekend, despite a military ban on gatherings of more than five people.
Experts have also warned that the coup is unlikely to heal divisions in a nation in which politics have become highly polarized.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, dressed in white military uniform, received the royal endorsement on Monday morning.
“To restore peace and order in the country and for sake of unity, the king appointed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as head of the National Council of Peace and Order to run the country,” the royal command seen by AFP news agency said.
The monarchy is highly respected and royal endorsement is seen as key to legitimizing the takeover.
Speaking afterwards, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the most important thing was “to keep peace and order in the country”.
Elections would take place as soon as possible, he said, but gave no timeframe. He also said he would have no choice but to use force if protests continued.
The ruling junta is expected to set up a national legislative assembly that will draw up a temporary constitution with a new prime minister.
Since taking power, the military has summoned and detained dozens of key political figures, including Yingluck Shinawatra. Journalists and academics are also among those who have been called in.
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Ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra has appeared at a military facility in Bangkok, a day after Thailand’s army took power in a coup.
Yingluck Shinawatra is one of more than 100 political figures summoned by the army.
The army has banned 155 prominent political figures from leaving the country without permission.
On Thursday the military suspended the constitution, banned gatherings and detained politicians, saying order was needed after months of turmoil.
Yingluck Shinawatra is one of more than 100 political figures summoned by the army
On Friday afternoon it appeared Yingluck Shianwatra had left the location where she had been summoned and was going to another military location.
Some pro-government lawmakers have now gone into hiding.
The coup, which followed months of anti-government protests, has drawn widespread international criticism.
It came two days after the army declared martial law.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was “no justification” for the coup, adding that $10 million in bilateral aid could be suspended.
The UN urged a “prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule”.
Thais, meanwhile, spent the night under a curfew which ran from 22:00 to 05:00. Bangkok was reported to be largely peaceful.
The anti-government movement has claimed victory and sent its supporters home.
Military leader General Prayuth Chan-Ocha – who has appointed himself the new prime minister – said troops were taking power “in order for the country to return to normal quickly”.
“All Thais must remain calm and government officials must work as normal,” he said in a televised address.
Political factions had been holding talks for two days. As soon as the coup was announced, several key figures were detained.
The military then issued a bulletin spelling out the key points of the takeover:
- Curfew nationwide from 22:00 to 05:00
- General Prayuth Chan-Ocha to head ruling National Peace and Order Maintaining Council
- Senate and courts to continue operating
- 2007 constitution suspended except for chapter on monarchy
- Political gatherings of more than five people banned, with penalties of up to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht ($300) fine, or both
- Social media platforms could be blocked if they carry material with provocative content
Thailand’s army, which has staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, acted after months of political deadlock.
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