Military-heavy cabinet named in Thailand

By By Tim Hume CNN
Published On: Sep 01 2014 03:34:37 AM EDT
Updated On: Sep 01 2014 04:05:14 AM EDT

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

(CNN) -

Thailand's military leader and Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has unveiled a new interim cabinet in which key ministries will be run by senior military figures.

Twelve of the 32-member cabinet are active or retired officers of the security forces, including one police general, occupying many of the most powerful roles in the new administration.

Most of the rest of the cabinet are former senior civil servants.

Military figures will hold responsibility for the defense, commerce, transport and interior ministries, while civilians will take the economics and finance portfolios.

Prayuth was selected by Thailand's National Legislative Assembly to lead the government in a vote last month. He was the sole candidate for the post.

Members of the assembly had been hand-picked by Prayuth. More than half are also in the military.

Prayuth seized control of the country on May 22, 2014 after months of unrest destabilized the elected government, led by former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Close associates

Prayuth has named General Prawit Wongsuwan, a former defense minister and former head of the army, as defense minister, and one of his five deputy prime ministers.

Retired general -- and Prayuth's predecessor as military chief -- Anupong Paochinda has been named Interior Minister.

Both are powerful military figures with close ties to Prayuth, and who played a role in the 2006 Thai coup.

General Udomdej Sitabutr, Prayuth's current deputy as army chief, has been named by Prayuth to lead the army when he steps down from his army position at the end of the month. Sitabutr will serve as deputy defense minister and is also a member of the cabinet.

Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, the head of Thailand's air force who has overseen the new regime's economic direction, will become transport minister.

The new cabinet will be required to take an oath before King Bhumibol Adulyadej before it officially begins its duties.

The administration is intended as an interim cabinet to allow the new leadership time to implement political reforms before elections are held.

Critics accused Yingluck of acting as a mouthpiece for her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in the last coup in 2006 and is now living in exile.

After taking power, military authorities summoned leading political officials and other prominent figures. It imposed travel bans and delivered the firm message that dissent would not be tolerated.

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