July 16, 2019 / 12:17 PM / a month ago

Thai coup leader's new cabinet sworn in pledging loyalty to king

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Tuesday swore in the cabinet of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief who seized power in a 2014 coup.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the new government cabinet pose for a photo in Bangkok, Thailand July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Prayuth declared an end to more than five years of military rule on Monday, saying that the country must now function as a normal democracy.

Prayuth and 35 cabinet ministers pledged their loyalty to the monarchy at the Dusit Palace.

“I hope the cabinet and the government will have encouragement and power to perform their duty well and do what is right,” King Vajiralongkorn said.

Former junta chief Prayuth has said the coup was necessary to restore order after six months of street protests and violent clashes when he seized power in 2014. He said on Monday that things were getting back to normal after the March 24 election.

“We have to prepare for the next task that is to present the government policies and create a sense of unity for the country, religion, king, and all of us, the people,” Prayuth told reporters after Tuesday’s ceremony.

“Many people have high hope for this government.”

Prayuth stays on as prime minister after being chosen by junta-appointed senate and pro-military legislators under a system that his opponents said was unfair.

It took Prayuth more than a hundred days to form the cabinet following heated wrangling.

The most important jobs went to members of the former junta, but some key economic portfolios went to the 19 parties Prayuth had to bring on board to give him a slim majority in the lower house of parliament.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Nick Macfie

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