• Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thai Gen Prayuth receives royal endorsement

BBC Online
Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha looks on during a news conference at Army Headquarters in Bangkok on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha looks on during a news conference at Army Headquarters in Bangkok on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Thailand's military leader has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in the capital, Bangkok, after taking power in a coup last week.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, was formally appointed as the prime minister at the army headquarters.

The 86-year-old monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, did not attend the ceremony.

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 Prime Minister 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 polarised.

'No benefit'

Gen Prayuth, dressed in white military uniform, received the royal endorsement on Monday morning.

The monarchy is highly respected and royal endorsement is seen as key to legitimising the takeover.

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. Journalists and academics are also among those who have been called in.

Tight controls have also been placed on the media.

Key coup conditions

Curfew nationwide from 22:00 to 05:00
Gen Prayuth 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; £180) fine, or both
Social media platforms could be blocked if they carry material with provocative content
Media warned not to carry criticism of army operations

The current deadlock dates from 2006, when the military ousted Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in a coup.

Thaksin and Yingluck have strong support in rural areas, propelling them to successive election victories.

But they are bitterly opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite, who formed the heart of the protest movement that began working to oust Yingluck in November 2013.

The Thai military has warned people against protesting against last week's takeover.

"I want fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to warn their families that there is no benefit in coming out to oppose (the coup)," army spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree Winthai told reporters on Sunday.

Published: 10:33 am Monday, May 26, 2014

Last modified: 8:42 pm Monday, May 26, 2014

TAGS: coup Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha National Council for Peace and Order

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