Thai King endorses Prayut's civilian Cabinet

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday endorsed the new civilian Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha following a March 24 election.

The endorsement was announced in the Royal Gazette.

Mr Prayut, a former army chief and junta leader, was elected Prime Minister by military-appointed senators and legislators after the election, under a system his opponents said was unfair.

Mr Prayut was also named Defence Minister. The new Finance Minister is Mr Uttama Savanayana, leader of the Palang Pracharat Party that backed Mr Prayut.

Mr Uttama held the industry portfolio in the military government and before that held various positions in the private sector.

Mr Prayut's loyalists from the military government, including Mr Prawit Wongsuwan, Mr Somkid Jatusripitak and Mr Wissanu Krea-ngam, remain deputy prime ministers.

Former deputy junta leader Anupong Paochinda retains his post as Interior Minister.

But Mr Prayut shared out some important economic portfolios with other political parties in his coalition government made up of 19 parties.

The Democrat Party took the agriculture and commerce ministries, while the Bhumjaithai Party took the health, transport and tourism portfolios.

Assistant Professor Wanwichit Boonprong, a political analyst at Rangsit University, said he was disappointed by a line-up that appeared aimed more at paying back political allies than ensuring the best people were in charge.

"This is more about matching parties' interests rather than naming appropriate people for the right job," he said.

The new government is expected to be sworn in later this month.

On Tuesday, Mr Prayut told reporters he would no longer use his absolute power as the junta leader under Article 44 of the Constitution that allowed him to bypass laws.

His regime has issued more than 500 orders in a span of five years. But some junta orders - such as giving the army and police the freedom to search, summon, and detain people for seven days in matters of national security - will be maintained.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline Thai King endorses Prayut's civilian Cabinet. Subscribe