BANGKOK: Thailand’s coup leader will receive royal appointment on Monday as head of the military junta that overthrew the civilian government, the army said.
Army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who seized power four days earlier and has assumed extensive powers over the Southeast Asian nation of 67 million, will formally be appointed in a ceremony in Bangkok.
The monarchy headed by the revered but ailing king, 86-year-old Bhumibol Adulyadej, commands great respect among many Thais.
His blessing has traditionally been a key step in legitimising the recurring military takeovers that have taken place in Thailand, which has now seen 19 actual or attempted coups since 1932.
“The ceremony to receive the royal command appointing General Prayut as leader of the National Council of Peace and Order will begin at around 10 am (0300 GMT) inside the Army headquarters,” said army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong.
She indicated the king, who is yet to make a public statement on the coup, would not be present for the ceremony.
The military cabal led by Prayut dismissed the civilian government on Thursday, following seven months of mass anti-government protesters and related political violence.
More than 1,000 anti-coup demonstrators marched through Bangkok on Sunday with dozens of demonstrators facing off against lines of armed soldiers, as the junta warned of a crackdown if the protests continued.
The military has detained former premier Yingluck Shinawatra along with scores of ousted government leaders, political figures, critics and academics in a sweeping roundup since the coup, which has drawn sharp international criticism.
An army commander indicated Yingluck remained under military control.
“We are taking care of her, she is fine, she can choose to stay wherever she wants,” Lieutenant General Thirachai Nakwanich, central region army commander told Agence France-Presse, when asked of Yingluck’s fate.
“Her living conditions are fine.”
Under the junta, civil liberties have been curbed, media restrictions imposed and most of the constitution abrogated.
The junta on Saturday announced that it had placed all law-making authority in Prayut’s hands.