BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Martial law will remain in effect after junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha becomes prime minister, according to a spokesperson for the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
NCPO spokesman Sirichan Ngathong said yesterday it was hoped that martial law would help the country remain peaceful and having it imposed was unlikely to obstruct the new government in running the country.
"Martial law has not affected people's everyday life. And more tourists have come to Thailand. The NCPO will retain martial law for public peace and order," she said.
But General Prayuth, the NCPO chief, said efforts were still being made by "old powers and influential groups" to "bring us back to the dysfunctional state we were in". He said they were "trying to come back in and change things back to the way they were by using social movements, especially those linked to the poor or those with low income. "If we let things go on as they did in the old way, it is likely that Thailand will have much to suffer in the future. Accordingly, this will also slow down the country's development," he said.
Gen Prayuth made these remarks last night during a national broadcast of his weekly TV programme Returning Happiness To The People.
He said changes for the better had been made after the NCPO seized power. "People were unable to travel because of the protests and the use of weapons and conflict was present everywhere. Now the country is peaceful and order has been restored. Citizens respect the law," he said.
In a related development, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra has told politicians in the Phea Thai Party to support and offer assistance to the new government, instead of criticising it, according to a source who is close to him.
Thaksin has retained influence in Phea Thai, despite the overthrow of his sister's government in the coup.
Meanwhile, activist Srisuwan Janya yesterday launched a legal challenge, claiming the National Legislative Assembly's nomination of the junta chief to be the next premier is unconstitutional.
Mr Srisuwan wants the Constitutional Court to rule on whether nomination of Gen Prayuth contravenes the interim charter.
The activist called on Gen Prayuth to resign as chief of the ruling NCPO to avoid a conflict of interest. He said Gen Prayuth should not hold the two positions at the same time.
Members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted unanimously on Thursday to nominate Gen Prayuth, also the Army commander-in-chief, as the country's 29th prime minister. The appointment is now awaiting royal endorsement.
Mr Srisuwan is secretary-general of the Association of Constitution Protecting Organisations. He was previously known for lawsuits that called for environmental impact assessments on industrial projects at Map Ta Phut, when he was head of the Stop Global Warming Association.
Mr Srisuwan lodged a petition yesterday with Ombudsman's Office secretary-general Chalermsak Chantaratim, seeking a case to be filed with the Constitutional Court. He argued that it was conflict of interest for the NLA, which was appointed by the NCPO, to elect the junta chief as prime minister.
He said the provisional charter in effect after the coup on May 22 set up a mechanism of checks and balances between the NCPO and the interim government by empowering the NCPO to remove the interim prime minister.
"So if the NCPO chief and the prime minister are the same person, would he suggest he should remove himself from the PM's seat," Mr Srisuwan asked.
The activist said he would only withdraw his petition only if Gen Prayuth resigned as NCPO chief. He added that other members should resign from the NCPO once they are appointed to the interim Cabinet.