Thai king opens first parliament since 2014 coup

25 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

BANGKOK: Thailand’s king opened parliament Friday five years after a 2014 coup, stressing the importance of “national security” and “people’s well-being” as the junta moves within striking distance of cementing its grip on power, reports AFP.

Results of the March 24 poll were released almost two months after the vote and showed no clear winner.

But the junta-linked Palang Pracharat won 115 seats in the lower house, only 11 votes shy of a majority in the combined parliament thanks to 250 military-appointed senators.

All eyes are now on mid-sized parties that analysts believe are tilting towards Palang Pracharat.

Wearing glasses and reading from prepared remarks, King Maha Vajiralongkorn told hundreds of assembled MPs standing in white uniform to act with responsibility because “each member’s action will directly affect national security and people’s well being.”

Members of the diplomatic corps were also in attendance.

The king was next to Queen Suthida, a former member of his royal bodyguard unit whom he married days before his coronation earlier this month.

The temporary setting—Thailand’s new parliamentary building is not ready yet—hinted at the tensions and uncertainty surrounding the rocky path ahead.

Votes for House Speakers are set for Saturday while the vote for prime minister could happen as early as next week.

In a dramatic move a day before the opening, the constitutional court suspended junta foe Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from parliament as it agreed to hear a case against him concerning the alleged ownership of media shares when he registered as a candidate.