Thai Parliament Convenes to Elect New Prime Minister
05 June 2019, 13:27
Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of Thailand’s ruling military junta, is widely expected to be elected prime minister when the country’s new Parliament convenes for the first time Wednesday, VOA reports.
Prayuth has the backing of a coalition led by the pro-army Palang Pracharat party, which won over 100 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives after winning the popular vote in the March 24 general election. He is also expected to receive votes from the 250-seat Senate, whose members were handpicked by the junta, giving him the necessary 376 votes from both houses of Parliament.
Prayuth’s standing was boosted when he received the support of the established Democrat Party, a move that prompted party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign his seat in Parliament.
A seven-party opposition coalition dubbed the Democratic Front has nominated Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the Future Forward party, as prime minister. But Thanathorn has been suspended from Parliament as he faces charges of sedition stemming from a student demonstration in 2015. He could face up to nine years in prison is found guilty.
The coalition includes the Pheu Thai party, which was once led by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The telecommunications billionaire remains popular among Thailand’s rural majority, despite being overthrown by the military in 2006, and his affiliated parties have won every general election since 2001.
Thaksin and the royalists have been quarreling for most of the last two decades in a bitter feud that has fueled bloodshed and two coups, including one in 2014 that overthrew his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and returned the country to its current state of military rule.
Thaksin and Yingluck have both been living abroad in exile since the overthrow of their respective governments.