World

Thailand's Coup Gets Royal Endorsement

King Bhumibol Adulyadej has officially endorsed Thai army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to run the country.

Thailand's Coup Gets Royal Endorsement
The New York Times / Adam Ferguson

The military chief who declared a coup in Thailand last week just got got a pretty big endorsement — from the king of Thailand himself. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Government of Thailand)

King Bhumibol Adulyadej has officially endorsed General Prayuth Chan-ocha to run the country. Analysts say although this is mere formality, it might add a sense of legitimacy to the military takeover. (Via Arirang

And there's a precedent for that. Of Thailand's now 19 attempted coups since 1932, the 12 successful ones all had the king's blessing. (Via Wikimedia Commons

But this time around, things are bit different. The king is 86 and his health is failing. His son, who is in line to succeed him, isn't nearly as popular. (Via History Channel

The fear is, the king's passing could create a power vacuum. Experts say the military doesn't want to risk having its critics in control when that transition takes place.

Risk mitigation consultant Steve Vickers told CNBC: "The 500-pound gorilla in the room is the health of the king. ... The (anti-government) Yellow Shirts think this is their last chance to 'fix things' before ... the king passes away. ... It's their last chance to change the constitution, to change the election system."

In the meantime, the military has promised Thailand will see what it calls a "genuine democracy," but no word on when those reforms will happen. 

Since taking power, the military has dissolved the Senate, imposed a curfew and detained more than 100 politicians in secret army facilities. (Via Euronews

It declared a coup last week after six months of political turmoil and protests that ended with the ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. (Via YouTube / TheCyberJom)

Now, there's another type of protest movement taking shape in Thailand — this time against the military. For these protesters, the king's backing of the coup probably means very little. (Via Channel 4)

JONATHAN HEAD, BBC CORRESPONDENT: “I don’t think this will make any difference now to the feelings of people who are opposed to this coup. Those feelings run very, very strongly. And they won’t be swayed strongly by the fact that there’s been a royal assent.”

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Even though the king is very revered in the country, there are those who believe it should have never happened and who are calling for the power to be returned to the people."

The king's announcement comes a day after the military warned protesters to back off or risk a crackdown.