Thai coup general quits position

BBC News

Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin

There is speculation that Gen Sonthi is eyeing the Thai premiership

 

The general heading the military council which has effectively run Thailand since a bloodless coup last year has stepped down from his post.

Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who helped depose former PM Thaksin Shinawatra last September, resigned as head of the Council for National Security.

Government officials said he had agreed to take up the post of deputy prime minister, overseeing internal security.

The general is said to be close to the revered King, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

PM’s job?

Thailand’s military-installed government has promised to hold elections in December and Gen Sonthi’s move has prompted speculation that he is interested in becoming prime minister.

The current premier, retired general Surayud Chulanont, has faced criticism over his performance.

The head of Thailand’s air force, Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, has taken over as the new head of the military, a spokesman says.

The military seized control, accusing the twice-elected Mr Thaksin of corruption and abuse of power.

The coup leaders formed a seven-member Council for National Security, whose agenda included a timetable for the restoration of a civilian government and elections.

It also maintained substantial powers over the drafting of a new constitution.

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