Coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha takes office as prime minister of Thailand
Prayut Chan-ocha smiles after the royal endorsement ceremony appointing him as Thailand's new prime minister at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, Jun 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / POOL
A handout photo made available by the Royal Thai Government shows Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha (R) performing a Thai wai greeting as he receives the royal command as the country's new prime minister in front of a portrait of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, Jun 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A handout photo made available by the Royal Thai Government shows Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha (C) posing for a group photo with the coalition party members after receiving the royal command as the country's new prime minister at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, Jun 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Bangkok, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday took office as prime minister of Thailand in a ceremony at the government headquarters, opening a new phase in the country after five years of a military junta.
Prayuth was elected prime minister in a vote in parliament on Jun. 5, but his appointment became official on Tuesday after King Maha Vajiralongkorn's approval was published in the Royal Gazette, the country's official bulletin.
During the swearing-in, 65-year-old Prayuth, dressed in a formal white uniform, knelt before a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was not present.
"I affirm that I will dedicate myself to public service with honesty and integrity in pursuit of the greater good of the country and the people of Thailand," the prime minister said in a press conference after the event, in which he expressed gratitude to the monarch and promised to fight against corruption and inequality.
"I will listen to the voices of the people while fulfilling my duty to move forward and develop the country in all economic and social aspects," Prayuth added.
Prayuth was army chief when he seized power in a coup in May 2014 after months of anti-government protests that had hampered the holding of elections that year.
A man with an abrasive manner and an ultra-monarchist, he has silenced any form of dissent and pushed back the holding of elections several times.
The general did not contest the elections, held on Mar. 24, but was named the prime ministerial candidate by the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party, which won the popular vote but not the most seats.
On Wednesday, Prayuth was appointed the head of government with 500 votes from a large coalition of parties and all the senators - handpicked by the military junta - in a special joint session of the Senate and lower house.
The incumbent prevailed by 500-244 over Thanathorn Juangroongruankrit, a political newcomer, who was backed by a coalition of anti-junta parties.