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Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Ex-Thai PM Prem Tinsulanonda named temporary Regent as throne remains vacant

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has asked for his accession to be delayed so he has time ‘to mourn with the country’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 2:09pm

Thailand’s throne remained vacant on Saturday as the country entered its first full day of an unprecedented year-long period of official mourning following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

As a sombre nation continued to grieve for the world’s longest reigning monarch – who died aged 88 on Thursday following a long illness – more details have emerged about who, why and how the royal impasse caused by heir apparent Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s request to delay his ascent to the throne is being addressed to calm fears about uncertainty and the potential for instability.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn – whose colourful and controversial past mark him out as a completely different figure from his revered late father – has asked for his accession to be delayed so he has time “to mourn with the country’’.

On Friday, General Prem Tinsulanonda, Privy Council president and an influential power broker, was named Regent pro tempore in the wake of the king’s death.

On Saturday, according to the Bangkok Post newspaper, the appointment was made by the vice-president of the country’s National Legislative Assembly, Peerasak Porjit and is in line with Section 24 of the nation’s constitution. Section 24 allows for the privy council president to become acting regent when the throne is vacant.

What next for Thailand, with the military left exposed and a crown prince lacking popular appeal?

Under the constitution the duty of the Regent pro tempore ends when a meeting of the National Legislative Assembly invites the heir to ascend the throne, the Bangkok Post said.

General Prem Tinsulanonda, 96, was prime minister of Thailand for eight years from 1980.

Meanwhile, tourists continued to flock to Thailand yesterday despite the country being gripped by grief.

After calls by the military government under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to Thai citizens and visitors alike to curtail festivities as a mark of respect, most restaurants and bars remained open but were doing business in a manner more restrained than normal for Thailand.

A number of high-profile international concerts and shows have been cancelled and Bangkok’s infamous red light districts were closed for business.