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Thai ex-PM takes regency over empty throne

dpa logodpa 15/10/2016

Thailand's government says the 96-year-old privy council head Prem Tinsulanonda has assumed the role of regent for the country's vacant throne.

Former Thai prime minister and privy council head Prem Tinsulanonda has assumed the role of regent for the country's vacant throne in accordance with the constitution, the Thai government says.

In a televised interview from government house late on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krua-ngam said that according to the country's 1991 constitution, the current head of the privy council is to automatically assume the role of regent pro tempore in the event of the absence of a ruling monarch.

Prem, 96, is the head of the privy council that advises the king. King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Thursday after more than seven decades on the throne.

Prem was appointed president of the privy council in 1988, following his time in office as prime minister between 1980 and 1988.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Thursday that Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn wanted to delay being proclaimed king so that he can join Thais in mourning the death of his father.

"He requested time to deal with his grief and express his sadness alongside the people across the nation at this time," Prayut told local media, adding that the crown prince wishes to wait until the appropriate time.

"It is inconceivable to leave the throne empty for even one day," Visanu said, citing customary tradition of every country under monarchical rule.

In the event of an empty throne, the head of the privy council needs to assume the role of regent immediately and automatically according to the law, regardless of the person's consent, Visanu said.

The deputy prime minister confirmed there will be no further official announcement. There would also be no swearing-in ceremony in parliament.

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