Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha appoints interim assembly

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 11:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 11:26pm

Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has selected a 200-member National Legislative Assembly to act as the nation's parliament before possible future elections, while maintaining absolute authority over the country.

The assembly, endorsed yesterday by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, will meet for the first time on August 7, according to a statement in the Royal Gazette. The members are to choose a prime minister and cabinet ministers under an interim constitution introduced last week that gives Prayuth power to take any action he deems necessary without fear of prosecution.

"This is little more than a puppet NLA," said Kevin Hewison, director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Perth. "It is selected by the military junta to reflect its views and do its work. It is in no way independent and I expect that it will diligently reflect the military junta's positions and desires."

The junta, which seized power on May 22, has said a new election could be held late next year. Almost all the new assembly members are men and more than half come from the military, including Prayuth's brother Preecha Chan-ocha, an army commander, and Songkitti Jaggabatara, a former defence chief.

People who have held positions with political parties in the past three years were ineligible for positions in the new legislature, according to the interim constitution.