08/01/2014, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok: junta appoints new legislature, half from the military

Many fear the Armed Forces are tightening their grip on power. A new 200-member legislative body will include 100 military and almost a dozen police officers. The new interim constitution gives too much power to the generals, and democratic elections have been set for the end of 2015.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Thailand's junta, which took over after months of chaos, has appointed an interim legislature of 200 people, with most members from the security forces.

More than 100 have military ranks, while another 11 come from the police. The rest comprise academics, businessmen and politicians who opposed ousted (and exiled) leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

The new body will appoint an interim prime minister - widely expected to be army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha (pictured) - who will in turn choose a cabinet.

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is a much beloved and revered figure in the whole country, officially endorsed these decisions.

The junta has led the country since 22 May, when the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra (Thaksin's sister) was forced to resign after months of political protests and riots.

Since then, the military has come under international pressure to hold democratic elections.

The government issued a timetable a month ago for the gradual return to civilian rule, with a general election slated for late next year.

However, civil society groups and analysts are beginning to fear that the military might be strengthening its hold on power after it issued an interim constitution last week that gave it sweeping powers.

A national reform council is also expected to be appointed to help draft a permanent constitution that would take effect by July 2015.

The junta said in its defence that military rule has brought stability to Thailand following months of violent protests between the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps; nevertheless, it did not address direct questions about the lack of democracy in its decision-making process.

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