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Tue, October 3, 2006 : Last updated 20:51 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Politics > Ruengroj exits restyled council

Ruengroj exits restyled council

The Council for Democratic Reform has changed its name to become the Council for National Security. It has also undergone a significant change in its power structure.

According to announcement 11 issued by the CDR on September 29, General Ruengroj Mahasaranond, the former supreme commander, is no longer on the military council, which overthrew the Thaksin regime on September 19.

Several other Army officers have been promoted, notably Lt-Gen Anupong Paojinda and Lt-Gen Saprang Kalayanamitra.

Gen Ruengroj, who had strong ties with the Thaksin regime, retired last Saturday after reaching the mandatory 60 years of age. On retiring, he was also stood down from the Council for National Security (CNS).

Gen Boonsrang Niumpradit has succeeded Gen Ruengroj as supreme commander and has been named a member of the CNS in his place.

Sathiraphan Keyanond, the Royal Navy commander, has suffered a slight demotion from deputy chief to simply a member of the CNS.

Rising to greater seniority are Lt-Gen Saprang and Lt-Gen Anupong. Both have been promoted to deputy secretaries-general of the CNS. Gen Winai Phathiyakul remains secretary-general of the council.

Police chief Gen Kowit Watana has also seen his position in the council reduced from deputy chief to simply a member.

Gen Sonthi and other military leaders are said to have been unhappy with Kowit's recent move to reshuffle the senior police personnel to strengthen his own base. More importantly, senior police with close ties to the Thaksin regime also received promotions to key positions.

Political sources said Kowit was now facing an uncertain future. On the night of the coup, Army leaders found it very difficult to contact Kowit to join the CDR. His whereabouts were unknown, although he was reportedly in Hua Hin at the time.

However, police spokesman Lt-General Ajiravid Subarnbhesaj said Kowit had asked for his position on the CDR to be reduced. He said Kowit went to Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin on Saturday and requested permission to step down - to concentrate on the Royal Thai Police and head the Police Civil Service Commission.

Kowit did so because he had urgent issues to resolve and wanted everything back to normal. He wanted to make way for the new premier to head the Police Civil Service Commission as usual, Ajiravid said.

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