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Thai leader taps military for new Cabinet

The Associated Press BANGKOK (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday officially named his new Cabinet, a mix of members of the military government he headed after leading a 2014 coup and key politicians who helped him assemble a majority in the House of Representatives after 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 March elections were held under laws enacted by the junta to disadvantage established political parties. Critics also charged that the Election Commission helped the military-backed Palang Pracharath party, which backed Prayuth.

On June 6, the combined chambers of Parliament elected Prayuth prime minister by a vote of 500 to 244 for his opponent, anti-military candidate Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Prayuth’s election was virtually assured because all 250 senators were appointed by the junta he headed. Every member of the Senate voted for Prayuth except for the Senate speaker, who abstained.Speech

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