BANGKOK — Junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has received a royal command from His Majesty the King officially endorsing him as Thailand's 29th Prime Minister.
Gen. Prayuth received the endorsement in front of a giant portrait of King Bhumipol in a ceremony at the Royal Thai Army headquarters this morning. The 86-year-old king was not present at the ceremony, which is usually held at the Government House, as he is currently residing at a hospital in Bangkok for "medical examinations."
The ceremony was attended by the president of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA), commanders-in-chief of the armed forces, leaders of the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and other high-ranking officials.
The junta leader, who was selected as Prime Minister by the NLA on 21 August, said in a speech that he felt grateful for His Majesty the King's royal endorsement, which he said is the highest honour he and his family have ever received.
Gen. Prayuth also said he will strive to lead the country forward with widespread reforms of the country’s political, economic, and social sectors.
"The reforms will promote good governance in the political system and administration of the country," Gen. Prayuth said.
He added, "Let me give a promise to the people that I will fully dedicate myself as I carry out my duties. I will be honest, transparent, and I will uphold the interest of the nation and the people as the priority … in order to restore happiness and peace to the people."
There was a slight confusion when Gen. Prayuth said he would form a Cabinet in "October," contrary to the NCPO's claim that the new government will be sworn in before the end of this month. A spokesperson of the military junta, Col. Winthai Suwaree, later explained that Gen. Prayuth's remark was an error.
"I have received confirmation from Gen. Prayuth that everything will be according to the schedule set by the NCPO, which is to submit the list of the Cabinet for His Majesty the King within September," Col. Winthai said.
After receiving the royal endorsement, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha now officially holds three titles: Prime Minister, chairman of the NCPO, and commander of the Royal Thai Army, although he is scheduled to retire from the latter in September.
Gen. Prayuth is the first individual to amass such concentrated and widespread power over Thailand’s national administration since 1971, when Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn installed himself as Prime Minister, chairman of Revolutionary Council, and commander of the armed forces.
According to Gen. Prayuth, his interim government will administer the country for the next year, after which a general election is scheduled to be held in October 2015 if the political climate is deemed stable.