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Thai junta picks prime minister

From CNN Producer Narunart Prapanya
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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thailand's ruling military junta, which seized power in a bloodless coup 10 days ago, has chosen a new prime minister for the interim government, but has not yet officially released the new leader's name.

Adm. Sathirapan Keyanond, one of the junta leaders, told reporters Thursday that coup leader, army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, will announce the name of the new prime minister after the Thai king grants his approval of the candidate.

Officials expect the king to voice his decision this weekend or early next week.

Boonyaratglin told reporters, "The draft constitution is done. We have been submitted it (draft constitution) to His Majesty for his endorsement.

After that we will submit the name of the interim prime minister to the king. All should be done before the 4th."

Local media have speculated two top runners for the position are former army commander and close adviser to the country's powerful monarch, Surayud Chulanont and Supachai Panitchpakdi. Supachai is the former World Trade Organization chief and now heads the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD.

Meanwhile, all military officers loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been replaced or their positions listed "inactive" an annual list of officers released by the military showed Friday.

Boonyaratglin told reporters the generals have no intention of trying to govern themselves. He also said he did not think Shinawatra should try to return to Thailand at present.

"The National Security Council will be the government's tool. I can assure you it is impossible that we will control the government because we don't have much knowledge (on administration) which we know about that. We assure that we will not intervene the administration."

Boonyaratglin said the coup had avoided a bloodbath in Thailand, and he said Shinawatra should stay away for now.

"I don't think he should come back now because the domestic situation has not settled yet. There will be big protests if he returns."

Coup leader General Sonti Boonyaratglin is expected to reveal the name of the new prime minister.


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