Thai Parliament convenes for vote likely to keep Prayuth PM

Published On: June 5, 2019 01:39 PM NPT By: Associated Press

BANGKOK, June 5: Thailand’s Parliament convened Wednesday for a vote that is expected to keep Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister five years after he seized power by military coup.

The military-backed party that nominated Prayuth won the second-highest number of seats in the House of Representatives in the March general elections.

But Prayuth is virtually assured to remain in office because the prime minister is chosen jointly by the 500-seat House and the 250-seat Senate, whose members were appointed by the junta Prayuth leads.

He had the support of the military-backed Palang Pracharath party, which holds 116 House seats, as well as lawmakers from smaller parties, before the vote.

Prayuth did not run for a seat, and the constitution enacted under the junta does not require the prime minister to come from parliament. Laws passed under his government handicapped established political parties, raising concerns of fairness in the election.

The country’s oldest party said late Tuesday it would join a coalition government led by Prayuth, a decision that led former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign from Parliament. He had promised during the election campaign to not support Prayuth’s bid to continue leading the country.

The Democrats’ support also boosted the chances of Palang Pracharath holding a majority in the lower house, which is necessary to pass legislation and approve budgets.

The Democrats and the Bhumjai Thai party, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in March, together hold more than 100 House seats, and reportedly had been bargaining hard with Palang Pracharath over Cabinet positions in a coalition government.

The Palang Pracharath coalition was opposed by the self-styled “Democratic Front,” comprising seven anti-military parties led by Pheu Thai, which headed the government ousted by the 2014 coup and won the most House seats in March.

They had nominated the charismatic young leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, as prime minister. Future Forward’s strong election performance drew a raft of legal challenges from the military’s supporters, and Thanathorn himself has been suspended from Parliament until the Constitutional Court decides whether be violated election law by allegedly holding shares in a media company.

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