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Thailand Junta Chief Gets New Term As PM

Parliament elects Prayut after army strongman’s loyalists secure House victory

Three months after a landmark election, Thailand’s new parliament confirmed that they voted to give a fresh term to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. 

Prior to this decision, rival politicians sparred in a series of debates not seen in the last 5 years of military rule. The tiring 11-hour session, was broadcast on live TV.

Mr Prayut is an army chief who has chaired the ruling junta since he lead a coup in 2014 which overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

While Thailand remains an amazing spot for a beach holiday, the country faces rampant corruption issues and has seen multiple military coups in its recent history.

Prayut was nominated by the Palang Pracharath Party. Prior to the vote, it spent painstaking weeks trying to piece together a 19 party coalition with a slim Lower House majority. However, a last minute victory was secured with the timely addition of the 53-seat Democrat Party on Tuesday. 

Members of the anti-junta coalition lead by charismatic businessman and Future Forward Party leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit lobbied unsuccessfully for the two prime ministerial candidates to be present to express their dismay with the results. They argued that a military junta chief should not be allowed to continue ruling. 

Prayut’s supporters however, expressed optimism — “He came to the rescue when we were facing difficulties… and he did well where other leaders failed,” said Palang Pracharath member of parliament Korranit Ngamsukonratana. Senator Seri Suwanphanon said “I support democratic dictatorship but not fake democracy.”

Supporters of the royalist military faction argue that Mr Prayut’s victory in parliament will give the corruption riddled Kingdom some semblance of stability.

The major instrument he wielded was a provision known as Article 44, which handed him lawmaking powers without needing approval from anyone. The junta will be dissolved when Prayuth appoints a new Cabinet

Written by Avi Kumar

Avi Kumar is a contributor to The Schpiel.

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