Thai military-dominated legislature to appoint PM

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 19, 2014 6:12 AM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's military-dominated legislature will nominate a prime minister this week, members of the national assembly said on Tuesday, a move that looks set to consolidate the army's hold on power almost 100 days since it wrested control of the country.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is likely to nominate General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the May 22 coup after months of street protests, assembly members told Reuters.

NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai told reporters that an interim prime minister would be appointed on Thursday.

"We will nominate a prime minister on August 21. Meeting members will be the ones to vote," Pornpetch said, referring to the 197-member, military-dominated national assembly.

Assembly member Air Chief Marshall Arkom Ganchanahirun told Reuters that the NLA would likely nominate junta leader Prayuth.

"Having spoken to members of the NLA many of us agree that army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is the right candidate."

The interim premier will head a 35-member cabinet which is likely to be appointed by September.

The military says it took power to avert further bloodshed and restore stability after six months of often violent street protests pitting supporters of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra against her Bangkok-based royalist opponents.

General Prayuth, whose weekly speeches to the nation are tinged with nationalist overtones, has enacted sweeping changes since he seized power tackling everything from beach cleanup campaigns to energy policy. He has outlined a three-phase roadmap of reconciliation, formation of a new government and elections to take place by late 2015.

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Criticism of the military government has been muted, in part because of the junta's ongoing campaign against dissenters. Public dissent against the takeover was aggressively repressed by the army in the weeks following the coup.

(Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)