A major reshuffling of Thailand’s military leadership takes effect today, raising fresh concerns over the military’s promise to hold elections and return power to civilian control.
The reshuffle, announced in March, sees the promotion of over 200 military officers and transfers power in the armed forces. Current assistant army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong will become the new army leader, paving the way for the current leader and PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, to potentially retain power in a civilian capacity.
A new national constitution imposes constraints on civilian politicians and is expected to allow the military to continue influencing democratic institutions and processes. Additionally, while it bars Prayut from standing for election next year, it remains possible for him to retain power through appointment as PM by another party. However, with international scrutiny continuing, this appears unlikely. Either way, the potential for elections to be held next year has done little to ease concerns over the military’s desire to maintain a political position for itself.
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Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.