Thai assembly ends meeting without inviting successor to late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to ascend throne

People react as they hold photographs of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside Siriraj Hospital following the announcement of his death in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct 13, 2016
People react as they hold photographs of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside Siriraj Hospital following the announcement of his death in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct 13, 2016PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
This file photo taken on May 11, 2009 shows Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn observeing the annual ploughing ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok.
This file photo taken on May 11, 2009 shows Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn observeing the annual ploughing ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thailand's National Assembly ended an extraordinary meeting on Thursday (Oct 13) without inviting a successor to late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to ascend the throne.

Members of the assembly met at 9pm Bangkok time (10pm Singapore time).

The special session had been called following the king's death at 3.52pm Bangkok time on Thursday. 

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While Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is the designated heir to the throne following his father King Bhumibol’s death, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday that the appointment of a successor would be made later as the Crown Prince had asked for time to mourn with the Thai people.

“Let us wait for the right time,” PM Prayut told reporters.

‘’He acknowledged his duty as the heir and he will still perform all the duties as Crown Prince to the best of his ability’’ said the premier – who as army chief seized power in 2014.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) met briefly at the special session and observed nine minutes of silence to mark the passing of the King. The NLA did not invite the Crown Prince to ascend the throne.

Under Thailand’s laws when the throne becomes vacant, the NLA would have to invite the successor to take the throne. However the timeline for this is not clear, and also not clear is whether in the interim, there would be a Regent.

Normally, that would be the president of the privy council, currently General Prem Tinsulanonda. Given that King Bhumibol came to the throne in 1946, immediately upon the death of his older brother, there is no precedent for a Thai King's death in the modern era. 

King Bhumibol, whose name means "Strength of the Land", was seen as a father figure in the country of 68 million.

Formally known as Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty, he was the last king to yield real power in a region where old, once-powerful monarchies - in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia - had long disappeared.