Friday, 22 August 2014

Prime Minister Prayuth

Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of this year's coup, was appointed (or anointed) Prime Minister yesterday. The National Legislative Assembly voted 191-0 in favour of Prayuth's appointment. There were no alternative candidates, no dissenting votes, and Prayuth was not even present to accept the nomination.

The result was hardly surprising, as most NLA members are military officers and all were chosen by Prayuth's NCPO. Earlier this week, the Assembly approved the NCPO's budget proposal by a vote of 183-0, again without any dissenting votes. It's clear that the NLA is merely a rubber-stamp legislature, with no inclination or ability to challenge Prayuth or the NCPO. As army chief, head of the NCPO, and Prime Minister, Prayuth now wields almost absolute power.

Since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thai politics has been dominated by frequent periods of military rule, punctuated by occasional democratic administrations. There have been numerous coups and massacres, though no military leaders have ever faced prosecution. (Indeed, the leader of the 2006 coup subsequently became an elected MP, and the interim constitution grants an amnesty to Prayuth's NCPO.)

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