Interim PM choice sent for royal endorsement
The ruling generals have selected an interim prime minister whose appointment is expected at the weekend, a senior figure in the Council for Democratic Reform (CDR) said yesterday.
A source said last night the CDR submitted the appointment yesterday for royal endorsement.
"Everyone in the CDR are in agreement and we are confident that the choice will be acceptable to the public," said Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Sathiraphan Keyanont, who is a deputy leader of the council.
Sathiraphan declined to name the interim premier yesterday, saying the CDR chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin would make an announcement about the new prime minister.
When asked if the new PM would be a civilian or military man, the Navy chief pointed to a senior Army officer in uniform and said: "He will not be dressed like this, for sure".
A source in the CDR said the governing generals agreed that Privy Council member General Surayud Chulanont was the most suitable choice in the current situation, because the country was in need of unity. The retired general was previously Army chief and armed forces supreme commander.
Surayud is viewed as capable of ensuring reconciliation in the Kingdom, while any of his weaknesses could be rectified by technocrats and experts in those fields, according to the source.
The army chiefs expected that the final Cabinet line-up would help restore confidence overseas in Thailand.
The ruling council has said the interim prime minister would be named over the weekend, at the same time a temporary constitution is enacted.
The new prime minister is expected to lead an interim government for a year while a new constitution is being written. Then, a new election will be organised by October next year, according to a timeframe announced by the CDR shortly after its overthrow of the Thaksin Shinawatra government on September 19.
In addition to Surayud, former World Trade Organisation chief Supachai Panitchpakdi, who now heads the UN Conference on Trade and Development, has also been touted as a leading contender for the PM's seat.
He has declined to make public comments on the matter.
Some analysts yesterday described Supachai as a suitable choice for prime minister, saying that due to his good image in the world community, his appointment would make it easier for the interim government to win confidence from other countries.
One observer said it was rare for a privy councillor to be appointed prime minister.
Supachai was ahead of Surayud in a public survey by Bangkok University of residents in Bangkok and surrounding areas. He won support from 35 per cent of respondents, compared to 28 per cent for Surayud.
Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of the Chai Pattana Foundation, re-emerged yesterday as a possible candidate for the role of prime minister, following Sathiraphan's hint that the CDR choice was not a man in uniform.
Among those expected to serve in the interim administration are central bank governor MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, who is likely to be finance minister, according to sources close to the CDR.
Krirkkrai Jirapaet is expected to become commerce minister; Ajva Taulananda, industry minister; Piyasvasti Amranand, energy minister; General Thawat Ket-angkun, defence minister and Chai-anan Samudvanija, transport minister.
Former senator Kraisak Choonhavan and former permanent secretary for foreign affairs Tej Bunnag, were leading candidates to become foreign minister, according to the sources.