New Cabinet unveiled with familiar faces

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Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is shown in this Thursday, June 6, 2019, file photo. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is shown in this Thursday, June 6, 2019, file photo. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) — Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday officially named his new Cabinet, a mix of members of the military government he headed since 2014 and key politicians who helped him assemble a majority in the House of Representatives after the March elections.

Prayuth will be both prime minister and defense minister in the 36-member Cabinet announced in the Royal Gazette.

Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanawisit will be a deputy prime minister and commerce minister, while Bhumjai Thai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul will be deputy prime minister and health minister. Anutin campaigned for legalization of the production of marijuana to aid farmers.

The three other deputy prime ministers held the same job in Prayuth’s military government. One, Prawit Wongsuwan, was a senior career military officer like Prayuth. Another former senior officer, Anupong Paojinda, retains the post of interior minister.

The Cabinet members are expected to be sworn in next week.

The announcement of the new Cabinet came a day after Prayuth revoked dozens of special executive orders and vowed to stop issuing more as he prepared to lead an elected civilian government. Critics claimed it was an attempt to make it appear that the military is relinquishing power and transitioning to an elected government.

“The reason Prayuth revoked these orders is to help with image during the transition to the next government and to reduce pressure on him,” said Yingcheep Atchanont, program manager of the legal monitoring group iLaw.

Yingcheep said the government has deliberately kept in place orders that enable the military to influence politics, such as one that allows soldiers to search and arrest people they suspect of threatening national security for up to seven days without charges.

Another order Prayuth failed to revoke allows a committee to review and direct the removal of online content without a court order.

Prayuth said Tuesday he would no longer use his special legislative power, known as Article 44, which will cease once the new Cabinet is inaugurated.