‘Thai National Assembly ends extraordinary meeting of the Thai Junta without inviting successor to late King Bhumibol to ascend throne.’ (Reuters News Agency)
And here begins the problems with the Thai Junta. Because at the center of concerns, among Thailand’s elite and military rulers, about Vajiralongkorn’s ascension to power is not just his erratic track record.
It is fears of his personal relationship with ousted former prime minister and business tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was herself also ousted by the military in 2014.
Thaksin even presented the crown prince with a luxury car when he was first elected in 2001.
The fear is that Vajiralongkorn may find a support base among the populist politician’s voters are these concerns are believed to have contributed to the coups that removed the Sinawatras and their Red Shirt support in the first place.
What will happen now is anyones guess, however the Thai Junta have made a bold statement perhaps here.
“He already accepted his appointment as a royal heir, but he requested time to deal with his grief and express his sadness alongside the people across the nation at this time,” Gen. Prayuth said at 9.40pm after a joint meeting between the government and the legislature. “As for the … succession, he wishes to wait until the appropriate time.”
Shortly after King Bhumibol died at Siriraj Hospital, the National Legislative Assembly alerted the media that it will convene a special session at 9pm to formally endorse His Royal Highness Vajiralongkorn as the country’s new Head of State.
The session went ahead as scheduled, but consisted solely of nine minutes of silence observed for the late king, surprising many viewers at home.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has been the Heir Apparent to his father since 1972, but the constitution permits him to take the throne whenever he wishes to, while the parliament can merely “request” that he honor his father’s bestowment.
It is unclear when the Crown Prince will make that decision. The parliament will reconvene to endorse a new king “after royal ceremonies are over.” Interim parliament chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said at the end of the session.
The Thai Junta government has previously announced a national mourning that is due to last for a year.