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Thai Parliament to Choose Prime Minister on June 5

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Bangkok
2019-05-31
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Former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai arrives at parliament in Bangkok, May 24, 2019.
Former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai arrives at parliament in Bangkok, May 24, 2019.
AP

Thailand’s parliament will convene June 5 to select a prime minister, the newly elected house speaker said Friday in announcing a joint session that could anoint junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha as a civilian ruler five years after he seized power in a coup.

The 500-member lower house and the Senate, whose 250 members were all chosen by the junta, will jointly pick the premier, making political maneuvering and alliances necessary to get 376 parliamentary seats needed to clinch a majority and form a new government

“Tomorrow, the Parliamentary Secretariat will send a circular letter to the members to call for a meeting on June 5,” House Speaker Chuan Leekpai told reporters hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn had endorsed him as house leader.

“There will be a parliamentary meeting on the important agenda to vote for a prime minister at 11 a.m.,” Chuan said.

Prayuth, 65, is expected to breeze through the process, assuming he gets backing from most of the senators that he helped appoint, according to political analysts.

The pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party (PPP), which is led by former members of Prayuth’s cabinet, previously announced alliances that would help pass the threshold required to seat the new prime minister.

The PPP, which contested the polls with a goal of electing Prayuth as prime minister, is expected to be challenged by a pro-democracy coalition led by the Pheu Thai Party, which is backed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

On Friday, the Chartthaipattana Party confirmed it was aligning with PPP, adding 10 more seats that could potentially support Prayuth’s nomination. PPP and its allies now command 198 constituency votes, while the pro-democracy alliance has 246 seats, local reports on Friday said.

Chuan, 80, a former prime minister, took the speakership on May 25 after a 258-235 vote in favor of his nomination, defeating another candidate supported by liberal parties. Observers said his nomination would solidify Prayuth’s chances of becoming installed as premier.

Prayuth, a former army chief, began serving as prime minister in May 2014 after he led a coup that toppled the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. She is on a self-imposed exile with her brother Thaksin, who, eight years earlier, was also ousted in a coup.

After the military overthrew Yingluck, it installed a provisional government that tore up the old constitution and revamped parliamentary procedures for electing a new prime minister. A junta-backed constitution, which framed new rules for forming a government after elections, was approved by a majority of Thais in an August 2016 referendum.

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