WITH no official statement, the question of who will fill the position of Regent pro tempore remained unclear yesterday.
However, as a consequence of the provisional constitution, statesman and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda is supposed to take the title after the passing of His Majesty the King on Thursday.
Section two of the provisional constitution refers to the rules of secession to the throne to chapter two of the 2007 Charter which was scrapped after the 2014 coup.
Article 23 of the 2007 Constitution states: "In the case where the Throne becomes vacant and the King has already appointed His Heir to the Throne under the Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467, the Council of Ministers shall notify the President of the National Assembly. The President of the National Assembly shall then convoke the National Assembly for the acknowledgement thereof and shall invite such Heir to ascend the Throne and proclaim such Heir King."
The NLA did not do that during its session on Thursday night. Members only held a nine-minute period of silence to mourn the passing of the King.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said later that His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn preferred to "wait for a proper time" to ascend to the throne as the country was still mourning the passing of His Majesty the King.
"The Crown Prince prefers to join the entire nation in expressing his grief at this time," Prayut said. "He asked that the process of accession to the throne be held back until a proper time. He is aware of his duties as heir to the throne and will continue carrying out his royal responsibilities in his capacity as Crown Prince."
Therefore, according to the Article 24 of the 2007 Constitu-tion, the president of the Privy Council shall be Regent pro tempore, pending the proclamation of the name of the royal heir.
Yesterday, local media needed to withdraw reports on the matter, which quoted National Legislative Assembly vice-president Peerasak Porjit as saying that General Prem automatically became Regent pro tempore. The reason behind the withdrawals was unclear and representatives of the concerned media organisations were not available for comment yesterday.
Legal expert Verapat Pariyawong, a visiting scholar at SOAS School of Law at the University of London, said: "According to constitutional rules, the President of the National Legislative Assembly shall convoke the Assembly for the acknowledgement of the heir to throne and invite the heir to ascend the throne to be proclaimed King.
"Pending such proclamation, the President of the Privy Council shall act as Regent pro tempore. In such a case that the said Regent can no longer perform duties as President of the Privy Council, and the Privy Council is required to select a Privy Councillor to act as its President pro tempore. In addition, Article 6 of the palace succession law also provides that the ascension to the throne shall be without question and shall proceed immediately."
Prem, 96, became a member of the Privy Council after stepping down as prime minister in 1988 and was appointed chief of the council in 1998.