Thailand's army chief and coup leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, hands over command of the army to a trusted ally. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Thailand's Army Chief and Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha handed over his military position to General Udomdej Sitabutr on Tuesday (September 30). Udomdej is a close confidante of Prayuth, and his appointment signals the dominance of an army faction known as the Eastern Tigers, a clique of arch-royalists known for their animosity toward former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Prayuth, 60, who led a coup in May unseating a government led by Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, presided over a lavish military parade on Monday (September 29) marking his retirement as commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army. In his farewell speech, the Prime Minister spoke of the challenges lying ahead, as he and his government laid out plans to turn the country's economy and divided society around. Prayuth will remain leader of the junta and the National Council for Peace and Order, as it is likely his government will soon face the task of turning around a sputtering economy. The straight-talking general, known for his gruff exchanges with reporters, has already taken steps that democracy activists say are aimed at cementing the rule of the Bangkok-based royalist establishment in the face of an unprecedented challenge from the populist Thaksin. Thailand has been bedevilled by turmoil for much of the last decade as the establishment struggles to retain its supremacy despite repeated election victories by the brash former telecommunications tycoon.