Thai king endorses new cabinet weeks after disputed election

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn endorsed on Wednesday a new civilian cabinet of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha following a March 24 election.

The endorsement was announced in the Royal Gazette.

Prayuth, a former army chief and junta leader, was elected prime minister by military-appointed senators and legislators after the election, under a system his opponents said was unfair.

Prayuth was named defence minister. The new finance minister is Uttama Savanayana, leader of the Palang Pracharat Party that backed Prayuth.

Uttama held the industry portfolio in the military government and before that held various positions in the private sector.

Prayuth’s loyalists from the military government including Prawit Wongsuwan, Somkid Jatusripitak and Wissanu Krea-ngam remain deputy prime ministers.

Former deputy junta leader, Anupong Paochinda, retains his post as interior minister.

But Prayuth shared out some important economic portfolios with other political parties in his coalition government made up of 19 parties.

The Democrat Party took the agriculture and commerce ministries, while the Bhumjaithai Party took the health, transport and tourism portfolios.

Wanwichit Boonprong, a political analyst at Rangit University, said he was disappointed by a line-up that appeared aimed more at paying back political allies than ensuring the best people were in charge.“This is more about matching parties interests rather than naming appropriate people for the right job,” he said.

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