BANGKOK: Thai General Prayuth Chan-ocha has run the country flawlessly since he seized power in a military coup in May and would make a good prime minister under a provisional administration to be set up shortly, a junta colleague said on Wednesday.
The military said it intervened to restore order after months of political turmoil as protesters tried to topple the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yingluck was forced to step down on May 7 after being found guilty of abuse of power by the Constitutional Court. The remainder of her cabinet was ousted in the coup two weeks later. The junta tore up the old constitution and a provisional charter was endorsed by head of state King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Tuesday, allowing the appointment of a parliament, the National Legislative Assembly, which will nominate a new prime minister. Asked at a news conference whether Prayuth would continue as leader under the interim charter, Wissanu Krea-ngam, a legal adviser to the junta, said: “The constitution allows it, but whether he is appointed or not is down to the National Legislative Assembly.” General Paiboon Koomchaya, in charge of legal affairs for the junta, suggested Prayuth could do the job perfectly. “I don’t see he has any flaws in performing his duties. As of now he is already performing the duties of a prime minister. For the past two months, he has been sitting at the head of the table at every meeting and the administration of the country has gone smoothly during these two months,” Paiboon said. Ambika Ahuja, a specialist on Thailand at Eurasia Group, a New York-based political risk consultancy, believed Prayuth would retain control of the government either as prime minister or defence minister.
Alternatively, she wrote in a note, he could wield influence by staying on as army chief after his scheduled retirement from the army in October while former army chief Prawit Wongsuwan was installed as prime minister. “Such a move would signify a failure to find a neutral figure to navigate the political conflict and strong distrust of those outside the army,” she said.
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