BANGKOK — Leaders of the ruling junta on Tuesday deflected media questions about the identities of 244 new, unelected senators.
The list, which was mostly handpicked by the regime, is set to be unveiled by Friday, a day after the Election Commission announces the official MP election results. Deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan confirmed today the selection process is finished, but declined to comment further.
Junta member Anupong Paochinda was more hostile when questioned by reporters earlier today.
“Why in heavens are you asking me?” Gen. Anupong shot back. “Ask me some other questions.”
The junta-sponsored 2017 Constitution gives regime leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha the power to select 244 out of 250 Senate members. Prayuth tasked Prawit with making preliminary selections, with the junta chairman himself giving the final nod.
Six out of the 250 Senators are appointed ex-officio. They come from those holding the posts of army chief, navy chief, air force chief, defense forces supreme commander, defense secretary and police chief.
Under the current charter, these Senators will be able to vote alongside MPs on the next prime minister.
Although some media reports have said “18 to 20” cabinet ministers are set to resign and take up positions in the senate, Gen. Prawit claimed ignorance.
“I don’t know,” said Prawit, who seconds earlier said the senate list was completed “long ago”.
Another media report has also suggested that as many as 90 out of the 194 junta-appointed members of the National Legislative Assembly have been selected as senators.
Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra