Thailand's army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a military coup three months ago, became the country's prime minister on Monday, the first serving army officer to assume the top office in 22 years.
Gen Prayuth assumed the new post following an endorsement from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who appointed him as the country's 29th prime minister this morning. In a break from tradition, he received a written royal command at a ceremony at Army Headquarters. Civilians who take on the job receive the command at the Government House.
Bhumibol, who is 86 and in poor health, was not present at the ceremony. Prayuth received the royal command in front of the King's portrait.
Gen Prayuth, currently head of the military junta created National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said that he was ready for the job. "I am ready to get tired," he said. The army seized power on May 22 from the embattled prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced by a court to step down on May 7 for abusing power and violating the constitution.
Gen Prayuth is the first serving military officer to assume the post of the prime minister since then-Gen Suchinda Krapayoon, who took office on April 7, 1992. Gen Suchinda's term ended after only 47 days following the Black May uprising that threw him out and re-installed a democratic regime.
During his four-year tenure as army chief, Gen Prayuth has appointed many reliable military men to key positions, Bangkok Post quoted observers as saying. Gen Prayuth is likely keep the post of defence minister, the paper said quoting unnamed sources. He is set to retire from the army on September 30.
The Prime Minister said he would submit his Cabinet line- up for a royal endorsement by October. He unveiled the timeframe in his speech after his formal appointment.
He vowed to work with integrity to solve national problems by giving priority to the people and the country.