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Police chief - a job entangled in powerplay and intrigue

The appointment of the National Police chief has been a major headache for the last two prime ministers. The replacement of Pol General Wichean Potephosree by Pol General Priewpan Damapong in 2011 cost Yingluck Shinawatra her position.

Wichean was shunted to the National Security Council to be its secretary-general to open the way for Priewpan, brother-in-law of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to rise to the top of the police force.

Before that, Wichean was appointed head cop by then premier Abhisit Vejjajiva in 2010, almost one year after the post became vacant.

Abhisit tried several times to get Prateep Tanprasert to succeed Pol General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, without success.

Newin Chidchob, the de facto leader of coalition partner Bhum Jai Thai Party, as well as most of the Police Commission, wanted Jumphol Manmai, but Abhisit considered him too close to Thaksin.

The debate was led by Jumphol's supporter Niphon Promphan, but the latter ended up resigning as the PM's secretary-general.

To break the deadlock, then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva installed Pol General Prateep Tanprasert as acting police chief until his retirement.


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