Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday signed the order stripping fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra of his police rank.
The proposal to revoke Thaksin's lieutenant colonel rank, put forward by the Royal Thai Police, now goes to His Majesty the King for endorsement. Before that happens, however, Gen Prayut said government officials must work out a few remaining details.
The RTP recommended Thaksin's rank be stripped after the former prime minister, during a May trip to Seoul, accused privy counsellors of playing behind-the-scene roles in street rallies that led to last year's coup.
The proposal bounced back and forth between a police panel set up to consider the rank issue and national police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang, with the committee suggesting his rank be removed, but Pol Gen Somyot demanding a thorough legal study that resulted in delaying the outcome.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam said the signed proposal was not yet sent to HM the King, as details needed to be finalised for publication in the Royal Gazette.
While the rank issue now has been all but settled, the debate probably won't stop there, with revocation of Thaksin's royal decorations likely the next target of his detractors.
Gen Prayut said any revocation of royal decorations must begin with the police agency and noted that former military and police officers previously had their ranks and decorations rescinded. But those cases received no media attention because they were ''nobodies", he added.
"This person has not stopped and (the public) cannot escape his presence. Everybody gets excited every time this person makes a move,'' the prime minister said without referring to Thaksin by name.
Thaksin has received four royal decorations, including the Order of Chula Chom Klao.
Gen Prayut said he did not see Thaksin as his enemy and will follow proper procedures. "I'm not fighting anybody, but he will be arrested (if he comes back)," he said.
Thaksin fled the country before the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders' ruling in 2008 on the Ratchadaphisek land deal. He was sentenced in absentia to two years.
He also faces arrest for in the Krungthai Bank loan case. The Office of the Attorney-General has named him the first defendant.
Thaksin told a red-shirt meeting in Finland on Aug 15 that he couldn't' care less about his police rank and told authorities to get it over with quickly.
Rank in the Thai military and police forces is bestowed by the monarch, and an officer can only be formally stripped of it by royal assent.