December 16, 2016 / 3:02 PM / 8 months ago

Thai PM reshuffles cabinet for the fourth time since coup

BANGKOK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has reshuffled his cabinet, a statement published in the Royal Gazette said on Friday, the fourth change in his administration since he took power in 2014.

Prayuth, a former army chief, seized control of government following a bloodless May 2014 coup.

He said the coup was necessary to restore peace and stability following months of anti-government protests that eventually led to the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her civilian government.

Prayuth switched or appointed 12 ministers and deputy ministers late on Friday, according to a list published in the Royal Gazette. The highest-level changes were the country's justice, education and industry ministers.

It was not immediately clear what impact the reshuffle would have.

Laws passed by the government generally come into force after publication in the Royal Gazette, a public journal.

Thailand's new King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne on Dec. 1 following the death of his father, revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct. 13, appointed new members to his royal council earlier this month.

The appointments included Minister of Justice Paiboon Koomchaya who had to step down from the cabinet, making his replacement necessary.

Prayuth last reshuffled his cabinet in August 2015 to focus on Thailand's troubled economy, which has struggled amid weak exports and domestic demand since the 2014 coup.

The junta has promised a general election in late 2017 to return Thailand to democracy.

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Larry King

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