BANGKOK – Thailand will have a new government in place no later than July, junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Sunday (June 23).
Mr Prayut will lead the new administration as prime minister. The 65-year-old retired general has been in power since a May 2014 coup, having declared himself prime minister three months later.
“They (ASEAN Leaders) asked me when the transition to democracy will take place. I told them no later than next month,” Mr Prayut told a press conference at the biannual ASEAN Summit in Bangkok.
The transition comes after Mr Prayut’s military regime sought to legitimize his rule by holding an election in March. The election was widely regarded as rigged to ensure he will stay in power.
Earlier this month, Mr Prayut was elected prime minister by the Parliament in a landslide, thanks mainly to voters from senators who had been hand-picked by the regime and endorsed by Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Mr Prayut’s rule, could, in theory, extend two terms, or eight more years, if he continues to be supported by the Senate. But analysts predict the new administration, seen as a transition from a dictatorship to a semi-democracy, will be unruly and short-lived because the governing coalition will comprise a total of 19 parties.
Under PM Prayut, political activities have been tightly controlled and many dissidents have been arrested and charged with sedition and tough computer crime laws.