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Thai king's favorite to take over army, as PM's choice ignored

Thai king's favorite to take over army, as PM's choice ignored

BANGKOK -- King Maha Vajiralongkorn's favorite serviceman, Gen. Narongphan Jitkaewthae, will take the reins as Thailand's next army chief in October after the incumbent's term expires, according to the government's public journal, Royal Gazette.

The rise of Narongphan reflects the influence of the palace over the military, a trend that emerged in 2016.

The appointment also shows the waning influence of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief.

A military intelligence source said Narongphan's humble beginnings earned him respect within the army, a point that is particularly pertinent at a time when the public is turning against perceived elitism within Thai government.

He, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, both also former army commanders, were members of an influential faction in the military that staged the coup and led the country as a junta for years.

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