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Prajin backs Prayuth to take over as prime minister

Army chief capable of handling responsibility, rules himself out for job

AIR FORCE chief ACM Prajin Juntong yesterday backed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the new prime minister, saying the junta supremo had shown he could run the country competently since the coup two months ago.

There would be no problem if Prayuth stays on as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) while serving as the premier, said Prajin, a deputy NCPO chief.

"The provisional charter states that the interim government and the NCPO will work together. That should be a strong point because the NCPO can take care of security affairs and help the government function smoothly," he said. Prajin had emerged as a candidate for the top government post last week in case Prayuth decided to exclude himself, but Prajin said he was not suitable.

Prayuth has won support from public surveys, key NCPO leaders including deputy NCPO chief and assistant Army chief General Paiboon Kumchaya, and other members of the National Legislative Assembly, which will appoint the prime minister for His Majesty the King to endorse by this month.

However, some NCPO officials worry about pressure on the Army chief if he tries to juggle the two key roles - as head of the incoming government and the military regime - so Prajin is seen as an alternative.

NLA member Thiradet Meepien said all opinion polls supported Prayuth as the proper person for the PM post.

Prajin said there has been no move to find someone else to act as NCPO head honcho, but the NCPO's membership will increase from seven to 15 according to the interim Constitution of 2014.

"So far, there has not been any suggestion of appointing anyone else to replace General Prayuth as NCPO chief or promoting a deputy chief to take his place," Prajin said.

If the two largest political parties and the People's Democratic Reform Committee decide not to nominate any of their people for the junta-selected National Reform Council, that will not derail the national reform process because other Thais with ability and knowledge are ready to help out, he added.


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