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Thai junta-led assembly meet, army extends grip

BANGKOK--Thailand's new military-stacked National Legislative Assembly convened for the first time on Friday, electing a president in a key step towards crafting a new constitution likely to embed the army's political influence.

Of the 197-strong assembly, just over half are serving or former military top brass, with the remainder also appointed by the junta which seized power from Thailand's elected government on May 22.

Members on Friday elected a president of the assembly, which will act as Thailand's lower and upper house pending the ratification of the new constitution.

Junta legal adviser Pornpetch Wichitcholchai “was unanimously endorsed as president,” Somporn Thepsitha, acting chairman told the assembly.

Coup-leading Army Chief Prayut Chan-ocha is widely tipped by local media to be chosen as prime minister by the assembly in the coming days — although a clear timeframe has not been given.

Under an interim charter the junta will remain in place in parallel to the future government, which will be nominated by the new prime minister.

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