House, Senate elect Prayut Thailand's new prime minister

House, Senate elect Prayut Thailand's new prime minister

MPs and senators elected Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha Thailand's Prime Minister at the end of their joint session at the TOT auditorium on Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong) Inset: Gen Prayut smiles after his speech for the opening ceremony of Anti-Human Trafficking Day in Bangkok on Wednesday. (AP photo)
MPs and senators elected Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha Thailand's Prime Minister at the end of their joint session at the TOT auditorium on Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong) Inset: Gen Prayut smiles after his speech for the opening ceremony of Anti-Human Trafficking Day in Bangkok on Wednesday. (AP photo)

MPs and senators overwhelmingly voted for Prayut Chan-o-cha to be prime minister of Thailand late on Wednesday night. Gen Prayut will be the head of a coalition government led by the Palang Pracharath Party.

The combined members of the House of Representatives and Senate cast 500 votes for Gen Prayut, well ahead of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit's 244 and enough to elect the former junta leader as the 29th prime minister of Thailand.  Mr Thanathorn was prevented from voting because his MP duties were suspended over an alleged media shareholding, and a Future Forward MP was ill. 

The result was widely expected as the winning candidate needed at least 376 votes of the total 750 votes of the House and Senate -- including 250 senators handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order led by Gen Prayut, a stipulation of the 2017 constitution that many called an interference in the democratic process. 

Mr Thanathorn, who leads the Future Forward Party (FFP), represented the anti-regime camp led by the Pheu Thai Party. Earlier on Wednesday, he called for change during a press conference held outside the TOT auditorium to outline his vision.

FFP had planned to propose that both candidates share their visions before the joint session, but later scrapped the call in order to shorten the joint session.

Gen Prayut was working at Government House and remained tightlipped about the vote when questioned by the press before the parliamentary meeting convened.

The morning session was partly overshadowed by the announcement of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva that he was resigning as a party MP over his party's endorsement of Gen Prayut as PM.

Mr Abhisit attended the meeting and then walked out to hold a press conference to announce his decision.


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