Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) paid his respects to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Thailand’s military government says the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej will not affect its plans to hold a general election next year, media in the country say.
The king’s death, which put an end to his seven-decade rule on Thursday, raised hope among Thais that the military junta would postpone the election and pave the way for a return to a civilian government.
“The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year," The Bangkok Post newspaper reported Monday.
A spokesman for the government, Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, however, declined to comment on the matter, saying “this is not the time to discuss politics.”
After the king’s death, the government reassured that everything in the country will run as normal.
The 64-year-old crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will succeed the king, but his formal coronation is expected to take place after the king’s cremation, which is not expected until after a one-year period of official mourning in the country.
Thai people wait to pay their respects to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
As a result, 96-year-old General Prem Tinsulanonda, a former prime minister and head of the Privy Council, will stand in as regent for an unspecified period, until the parliament invites the prince to become king.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the prince “asked the people not to be confused or worry about the country’s administration or even about the succession.”
“We should all pass this period first," Prayuth said. “When ceremonies for making merit and the funeral pass for a while, then it should be time to continue. This is unlikely to create any impact on other plans or processes.”
The king’s death at the age of 88, brought tens of thousands of mourners from across the country to the Grand Palace in the capital Bangkok to pay their respects to the late king as they began a year of official mourning.