Thailand has political stability, Prayut says

Thailand has political stability, Prayut says

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks during the Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok on Friday. (Bloomberg photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks during the Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok on Friday. (Bloomberg photo)

Thailand now has political stability and has been able to overcome conflicts in the country, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday.

"We have overcome an important period, which is the organisation of general elections,"  Gen Prayut said in a speech at the Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok. "We have overcome many chronic problems in the country which have impeded our economic and social development."

Lawmakers backed Gen Prayut to return as premier in a parliamentary vote held more than two months after a disputed general election in March. The former army chief seized power in a coup in 2014 after a period of unrest, ushering in one of Thailand’s longest spells under a junta until this year’s vote.

He now leads a sprawling 19-party, pro-military coalition with only a slim majority in the elected lower house, leading to speculation his administration may struggle to complete its four-year term.

An opposition bloc that’s fiercely critical of what it sees as the continuation of military rule controls almost half the lower house, raising the possibility of friction that could hamper policy making.

Gen Prayut was elected prime minister in a joint vote of the elected lower chamber and junta-appointed Senate.

His return marks a victory for the military and royalist elite in Bangkok, who have used the courts or coups to overturn election results for more than a decade to prevent exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra or his allies from retaining power.

The incoming administration faces the weakest economic growth since 2014 as exports, investment and tourism fizzle.

Gen Prayut has prioritised infrastructure and technological upgrades, as well as removing red tape, to bolster the outlook for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

Some major projects were slowed by the delay in government formation after the March election. Gen Prayut’s choice of cabinet ministers needs endorsement by His Majesty the King, and key policies are expected to be unveiled by July.

Thailand is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year and hosting the 34th summit of the 10-nation bloc’s leaders through Sunday.

The government has said Thailand will use its position as Asean chair to push for the finalisation of the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact -- which is backed by China -- before the end of 2019.

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