The succession is becoming a crisis for the military dictatorship.
Initially The Dictator stated that, after apparently prepared for succession to proceed on the evening that the king died, nothing happened, and General Prayuth Chan-ocha stated that Prince Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent, wanted time to grieve before succeeding to the throne.
There was then a coordinated effort to tell people not to worry and that succession was a done deal and the kingdom just had to wait for the new king.
The speculation about what delayed succession might mean caused Prayuth to put a time on succession. He was first reported as saying it would occur after at least 15 days of mourning.
Soon after, it was reported that he’d actually said 7-15 days. That seemed like a timetable.
Remarkably, within hours, this timeframe was ditched.
Described rather disingenuously as a “clarification,” Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said “Prayuth meant to say it would happen after the funeral was complete, which would take up to 172 days…”.
Was Prayuth drunk? There’s quite a difference between 7, 15 and 172.
Wissanu told reporters: “That’s all the meaning there is. There’s nothing complicated or mysterious.”
Really? If there’s nothing complicated or mysterious is it just that the junta is incompetent?
Even more remarkable, like Prayuth, Wissanu stated that Vajiralongkorn “would sign the new constitution, which was approved in an August referendum and is now pending minor revisions.”
That is flabbergasting. As far as we can tell, there is no legal basis for this unless the prince has become king. Otherwise, the regent would sign.
Perhaps the junta is reinventing the meaning of royal assent.
Yet we can see that an illegal approval of of the junta’s constitution might be entirely appropriate.
Succession is now officially and seriously bizarre. Speculation about it will be even more rife than it has been.
Update: On 18 October, the Prime Minister’s Office released this statement to news agencies:
On the matter of Royal Succession, this will proceed according to the Constitution, the Palace Law on Succession, and Royal Traditions. There need not be any speculation or confusion on this matter, as it is already clear that, following Royal Funeral ceremonies for 15days, it should be an appropriate time to proceed with the constitutional processes. In the meantime, the Regent Pro Tempore shall only perform official duties as deemed necessary. As for the announcement of the promulgation of the new constitution, the new King will sign the charter in accordance with the stipulated time period, and without any disruptions to this schedule.