Thai PM reassures on smooth succession; coronation after king's funeral

Updated: 2016-10-17 09:35


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Thai PM reassures on smooth succession; coronation after king's funeral

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn takes part in a ceremony honouring late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, October 15, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

BANGKOK - Thailand has sought to dispel any concern about a royal succession after Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would delay his ascension to the throne while he mourns his father, and the government stressed on Sunday it was working as normal.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Thursday after seven decades on the throne. He was 88.

The prospect of complications in the succession in the politically divided country could alarm financial markets, but the military government has been quick to quash any such speculation.

The crown prince has requested that his succession be delayed for an unspecified period, so he can grieve with the people, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said.

The government has not set a date for the royal cremation but a deputy prime minister said the prince had asked that it be held after a year of mourning, and the coronation would take place after the cremation.

The formal procedure for him to become king, which involves the president of the legislature inviting him to ascend the throne, can happen at any time before his coronation.

In the meantime, the head of the royal advisory council, a 96-year-old former army chief and prime minister, Prem Tinsulanonda, will stand in as regent.

A semi-official biography of King Bhumibol has a short section on Prem, noting that he was accused of involvement in a 2006 coup that removed populist prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power.

On Saturday, the prince held an audience with Prem and Prayuth and asked them to pass on his reassurance to the people, Prayuth said in a televised address.

"He asked the people not to be confused or worry about the country's administration or even about the succession," Prayuth said. "He said at this time everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time ... When the religious ceremony and funeral have passed for a while, then it will be an appropriate time to proceed."

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters on Sunday the prime minister wanted to reassure the public about the government's work and a cabinet meeting would go ahead as normal on Tuesday so administration "can continue seamlessly".

King Bhumibol, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, was revered as a father figure and symbol of unity in a country riven by political crises over the years, most recently by a power struggle between the military-led establishment and populist political forces.

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