Thailand's new king to be named soon as funeral rites continue

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hinted Tuesday that there could be a swift succession to the Thai throne, beginning as early as 15 days from now, as royal funeral rites continue to be performed.

Prayut told reporters that the royal succession will proceed in accordance with the constitution. He did not make the timeline clear, but hinted at an earlier procedure.

"After the royal funeral rites proceed for some time, around 15 days, after then, it should be an appropriate time," he said.

The Thai premier said the succession process can begin before the coronation of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, expected one year after the cremation of late king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Prayut added the new king will give his royal endorsement to the country's new constitution, which is currently being drafted.

Prayut heads a military caretaker government that is preparing for fresh elections next year. He stressed on Tuesday that the roadmap to democracy remains the same and the elections will take place next year as promised.

The funeral rites for the late king, who died last week, are being performed daily at the palace for 100 days, with Vajiralongkorn presiding over the evening ceremony, while his sister Princess Sirindhorn leads the morning rituals.

A date for the king's cremation has not yet been set.

Princess Ubolratana, Bhumibol's eldest child, visited a crowd of mourners gathered outside the royal palace in Bangkok to give them food and water, local media reported.

A video clip of the princess addressing the crowd late Monday went viral online.

Wearing a black dress and a diamond necklace, Ubolratana appeared to be composed during the period of grief and smiled while speaking to the crowd.

"I come here to mourn with you. We belong to the same family. He is our father. He is everyone's father. We are all proud of him," the princess said.

"Let's work together to drive the country forward. Don't go backwards," the princess added before thanking the crowd.

Last update: Tue, 18/10/2016 - 13:49

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