Thai PM vows devotion to job

The new prime minister yesterday promised to be devoted to his job and remain honest for the benefit of the country and its people, in order to "pay back to the motherland".

In a ceremony held at the Army headquarters, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would focus on creating unity among different groups in society, following years of damaging conflicts.

"I promise to bring back happiness and peace to my compatriots, and aim to strengthen the country's stability while bringing about love and unity among different groups and sides," the premier said.

He was addressing the nation for the first time after formally receiving the royal command appointing him as Thailand's 29th prime minister.

In a brief but elaborate ceremony, Prayuth - wearing a white official uniform - paid respect in front of a large portrait of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Prayuth said he was grateful for the royal endorsement.

"His Majesty the King has appointed me prime minister. I am extremely grateful ... this is a great honour for me and my family," he said after the ceremony. "I will work honestly and for the benefit of people and the nation."

The ceremony was televised nationally through the Television Pool of Thailand.

The top general, who was endorsed as prime minister on Sunday but officially given the royal command a day later, said he was grateful to those who would co-operate with the new government and the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in their future work. Prayuth will also retain his seat as NCPO chief.

The 60-year-old Army chief said he would form his Cabinet as soon as possible, saying the job could be completed as soon as the end of October. However, NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree clarified later that he had confirmed with Prayuth that the new Cabinet would be submitted for His Majesty's approval next month.

Prayuth, who is scheduled to retire as Army chief at the end of September, is the first active military officer to take the prime minister's post since coup leader General Suchinda Kraprayoon in 1992.

In his speech, Prayuth admitted that the road ahead was not easy for him and his administration.

"Our country has accumulated problems in several areas for a long time and those need to be sorted out," he said. "We will solve the problems as soon as possible without creating new ones in the future."

Prayuth also urged people not to worry about who is appointed to the Cabinet, saying he would press on with creating strong systems and stable security.

"I will work on economic and social issues, judiciary systems and all other issues to prepare the country for national reform and push the country to prosperity," he said.