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Turbulent Thailand

Thai king approves Prayuth's new cabinet

New ministerial lineup looks a lot like the old one despite coalition

After he received the king’s endorsement, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha asked Thais to have confidence in him and to give the new government a chance.   © Getty Images

BANGKOK -- Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun on Wednesday approved Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's list of new cabinet ministers, many of whom are closely connected with the outgoing junta.

The names of ministers were released on the government's public journal, Royal Gazette, on Wednesday.

With the king's backing, the prime minister asked for Thais to have confidence in his rule and to give the new government a chance to serve the people, a spokesperson of the administration said. Prayuth will concurrently serve as minister of defense.

Prayuth's long-time allies -- Prawit Wongsuwon, Somkid Jatusripitak, and Wissanu Kreangam -- remain as three of five deputy prime ministers in the new cabinet, signalling to the public that most of the policies already introduced and implemented will come to fruition. Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai also kept their positions.

The largest pro-junta camp Palang Pracharat Party led the formation of the list. The party's infighting over cabinet posts caused a delay in the finalization process. Party leader and former Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana will take the next seat as finance minister. The party's secretary-general and former Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sontijirawong will be minister of energy.

Suriya Jungrungreangkit had demanded that he was given the energy minister position and caused the delay in the formation of the government by threatening to leave the coalition. But he eventually backed off and ended up with the post of industry minister.

Palang Pracharat's mid-sized allies were also given some say. Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanavisit will double as deputy prime minister and commerce minister. The oldest party in Thailand clinched the agriculture ministry which will be headed by Chalermchai Sri-on. The party's electoral promises included tackling poverty in the farming community, and introducing price guarantees for cash crops such as rice, cassava corn, palm and rubber.

The Bhumjaithai Party, another mid-sized ally, successfully sent its leader Anutin Charnvirakul into position as the next cabinet's deputy prime minister and public health minister. The public health minister position is key to the populist party's goal of fully legalizing marijuana.

The ministers will officially assume their posts after a swearing-in ceremony with the king on July 16. The new government is scheduled to announce its policies in parliament on July 25 and 26.

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