BANGKOK – Thailand’s military Junta released the names of the incoming heads of various branches of the armed forces late Monday, including a new Army Chief.
General Udomdej Sitabutr will replace current Army Chief and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as the Army Commander at the end of September, when Mr. Prayuth’s term as head of the Army concludes.
General Udomdej’s appointment signals the continued dominance of a faction of the Thai Army known as the Eastern Tigers, from which the country’s last three Army Commanders have come.
Political commentators have noted that the group was largely behind the May 22nd coup, which took power after months of political infighting and violence.
“I think they clearly want to consolidate power and show no signs of tolerating dissent,” Panuwat Panduprasert, a lecturer in Chiang Mai University’s Political Science department, told CRT.
“They want to make sure that the political structure that comes after this will guarantee the central role of traditional Thai institutions.”
The Bangkok Post has reported that despite the army shakeup, Gen Prayuth will remain chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order and prime minister even after he retires from the army.
Another key change in the army is the Fourth Army Region, which is responsible for the country’s restive South. Lt Gen Walit Rojanapakdi will be moved to be deputy chief-of-staff at the Supreme Command and be succeeded by his deputy, Maj Gen Prakan Cholayuth.
Chief-of-staff of the Supreme Command Gen Sirichai Ditakul will be the new permanent secretary for defence, replacing Gen Surasak Kanchanarat. Deputy Supreme Commander Gen Worapong Sa-nganet will be the new supreme commander after Gen Tanasak Patimaprakorn ends his military career next month.
Navy chief Adm Narong Phipatanasai and air force commander ACM Prajin Juntong will retire this year and they will be replaced by Adm Kraisorn Chansuwanich and ACM Treetos Sonjaeng respectively.