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Thai PM vows to take sole responsibility for oath of office gaffe

Thai PM vows to take sole responsibility for oath of office gaffe
FILE PHOTO: Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha delivers remarks during the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha -
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ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA(Reuters)
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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday he will take sole responsibility for failing to recite the full oath of allegiance when he and his Cabinet were sworn in last month.

Prayuth and 35 Cabinet ministers pledged their loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn in an official ceremony at the Dusit Palace in Bangkok on July 16 but failed to complete the full oath of allegiance as required by the Thai constitution.

According to section 161 of the Constitution, the prime minister and Cabinet ministers are required to swear loyalty to the king and to perform duties for the benefit of the country and the people.

Public footage of the ceremony shows Prayuth, who was reading from a piece of paper, and his Cabinet omitting the last sentence of the oath about upholding and complying with the constitution.

“I want to take sole responsibility,” Prayuth said on Thursday at the start of an official meeting televised by state media.

“I am concerned about what to do in order to work, to make everyone continue to work. We have to see what the constitution says but this government will continue to function,” Prayuth said.

“I would like to apologise to my ministers for this,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what Prayuth would do to rectify the gaffe.

Prayuth scrapped the previous constitution when he seized power from an elected government in a 2014 coup. The current constitution was drawn up at his behest.

Critics have called on him to be accountable for the mistake and said the failure to recite the full oath of allegiance could render his Cabinet illegitimate and unable to perform its duties.

Thailand’s Office of the Ombudsman accepted a petition filed by an activist earlier this week and said the case would be forwarded to the Constitutional Court if a violation was found.

The opposition party has also vowed to raise the issue in the House of Representatives and seek clarification from Prayuth.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Paul Tait)

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