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Thai leader faces tough choices for Cabinet
Publication Date : 25-08-2014
Thai Prime Minister-elect General Prayuth Chan-ocha will today receive royal endorsement and officially become the head of the government while his deputies, military officers and technocrats are vying for positions in his Cabinet.
The ceremony introducing the Army and National Council for Peace and Order chief as the new prime minister will be held at Army headquarters this morning. The media will not be allowed to cover the ceremony but it will be televised live nationwide, according to an Army official.
It is expected that Prayuth will spend more time forming his first Cabinet as he is yet to finalise who gets which portfolio.
It is also expected that he will nominate as deputy prime ministers his NCPO deputies to make sure his commands are properly implemented.
General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, the Supreme Commander of the Thai Armed Force, is widely tipped to become deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
Chief Admiral Narong Pipattanasai, the Navy commander, is in line to become deputy prime minister and education minister.
Air Force commander Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jintong will likely become deputy prime minister and transport minister while another junta deputy, General Adul Saengsingkaew, a former police chief, is set to become a minister attached to Prime Minister's Office.
Assistant Army chief General Paiboon Koomchaya, who now oversees the legal affairs of the junta, is expected to be named justice minister.
A high number of military brass are tipped to become ministers including Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Surasak Kanjanarat and assistant Army chief General Chatchai Sarikalaya. What their roles will be is unclear.
Former Army chief Anupong Paochinda, who is an adviser to the junta, could be made interior minister while General Daopong Ratanasuwan, secretary of the junta's advisory council, is another candidate for interior minister but could get the environment minister's post.
However, many sources have said Daopong could be named secretary to the prime minister.
Another problematic position to fill is defence minister. Former minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, who is chief adviser to the junta, was earlier tipped for the job.
But it has been widely reported that Prayuth might name himself as defence minister in order to have direct control over the military to back up his government. Prawit might end up only being named a deputy prime minister, a position he does not want.
Two people are considered the frontrunners for the post of deputy prime minister overseeing economic affairs - ACM Prajin and Chatchai.
Along with transport, there is talk of Prajin also getting the industry and energy portfolios although there is also talk he has the option of taking either industry or energy.
As for Chatchai, he could get commerce, labour, and agriculture. There is also speculation he has agreed to become commerce minister.
It is thought MR Pridiyathorn Devakula will be named deputy prime minister overseeing the Finance Ministry while Apisak Tantivorawong, a former presi-dent of Krungthai Bank, is a leading candidate to get the finance minister portfolio.
Apisak reportedly has close ties with Somkid Jatusripitak, who was sent to China as a special envoy on Prayuth's behalf.
Narongchai Akrasanee, a member of the National Legislative Assembly and a board member of the Monetary Policy Committee, is a frontrunner to become energy minister, after earlier talk that he would get commerce.
Chakramon Phasukavanich, former permanent secretary of the Industry Ministry, has been linked with the industry minister portfolio.
The new government will have many economic problems to deal with. Rubber farmers, for example, will today petition the junta asking it to seek a solution for the declining prices.