Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The leader of the Thai military junta Prayuth Chan-ocha, 60, has been appointed the new Prime Minister of Thailand by the interim Parliament. The move appears an attempt to democratically legitimize a legislature born with a coup d'état on May 22 last after the ouster of the executive led by Yingluck Shinawatra.
The military coup, led by the newly appointed Prime Minister, ended months of political tensions and riots, with the opposition calling for the resignation en bloc of the government, the expulsion of the " Shinawatra clan " and "democratic" reforms.
The new Prime Minister was elected by all 197 members of the National Assembly of Thailand, but it was a formality that lasted no more than 15 minutes. In fact, Gen. Prayuth was the only candidate for the leadership of the executive and Parliament is firmly in the hands of the army or its delegates, thanks to the new constitution approved in July that gives them wide powers.
Now King Bhumibol Adulyadej must officially ratify Parliaments decision, which should arrive in the next few hours. In spite of the establishment of an interim government ahead of general elections at the end of 2015, in reality, the new Prime Minister wields enormous power by maintaining his position as chief of the army. In this way he can start to reform the country without any internal opposition.
He has promised a radical change in politics, to prevent the recurrence of tensions and protests that have characterized the last 10 years in the country, and then proceed to new elections. However, critics say his real priority is the destruction of the party of former Prime Minister and Thai billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra - winner since 2001 of all the elections - who is in exile to escape a two-year sentence for corruption.
Another goal is to ensure a smooth succession to the throne, with the elderly monarch no longer able to hold the post because of his age and health problems.