Prayuth now ‘certain’ to become PM

Prayuth now ‘certain’ to become PM

Top brass to dominate cabinet posts

The interim cabinet is slowly taking shape and is only being held up as key military figures are still being manoeuvred into important ministries, an army source said yesterday.

National Council for Peace and Order chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will become prime minister. But he will not take the defence minister’s post, as had been rumoured, which will go to Supreme Commander Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn.

Gen Prayuth had earlier said the interim cabinet would be formed by early September.

The army chief and the three other senior military figures will retire at the end of September. They will all become part of the cabinet, the source said.

Earlier it had been predicted that Gen Tanasak would become foreign minister. But that post is now being considered for a civilian, with former minister Tej Bunnag or permanent secretary for foreign affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow in the running, the source said.

Mr Tej was foreign minister in the Samak Sundaravej government while Mr Sihasak is seen by Gen Prayuth as an outstanding official.

Since the coup, Mr Sihasak has had the dual role of foreign minister and permanent secretary for foreign affairs. Gen Prayuth is said to be happy with his performance in promoting a good understanding of Thailand’s post-coup situation.

Former army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda, who has close ties with Gen Prayuth, will become interior minister after earlier being expected to take up the defence post if it did not go to Gen Prayuth.

The source said Gen Prayuth had to give the defence post to Gen Tanasak, a deputy NCPO chief, as a sign of respect for his position of supreme commander.

Retired deputy army chief Dapong Ratanasuwan, another close friend of Gen Prayuth who is now an NCPO adviser, was likely to become transport minister.

Gen Dapong initially was expected to take the Culture Ministry helm, but a number of people felt the position might not suit someone who was among those who engineered the coup.

“Gen Prayuth knows well who is suitable for what position,” Gen Dapong said earlier.

As a result, talks were held to encourage air force commander ACM Prajin Juntong to concede transport for the energy minister’s position, said the source.

ACM Prajin had been seen as the most likely transport minister because he had served as chair of several state enterprise boards including Thai Airways International.

Eventually ACM Prajin agreed to surrender transport to his colleague who enjoys closer relations with Gen Prayuth.

As Gen Prayuth had earlier appointed ACM Prajin chairman of the Energy Policy Management Committee, he was seen as being better qualified to take the helm at the Energy Ministry.

Navy chief Adm Narong Pipattanasai is likely to become a deputy prime minister.

Assistant army chief Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, who also serves as head of the junta’s judicial affairs sector, will definitely become the justice minister.

NCPO legal adviser Visanu Krue-ngam will emerge as a deputy prime minister overseeing the legal affairs of the new government.

National Anti-Corruption Commission secretary-general Sansern Poljiak said yesterday the ministers in the interim cabinet must disclose details of their assets.

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