Reuters, Bangkok : Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Friday opened the country's first parliament since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2014 coup. Parliament will choose a new prime minister, who will form a cabinet likely next month, but its exact makeup is not yet known after a March 24 election produced no clear winner. However, a military-linked party aiming to keep current junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in power is expected to have the edge in cementing power under rules written by the military government. "May the members of parliament be aware of the importance and responsibility of their duties," King Vajiralongkorn, accompanied by his new Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana, said. "Because every action of each member will directly impact the security of the nation and the happiness of the people." The Thai parliament combines a 500-member House of Representatives elected in the March 24 polls and 250 senators, who were entirely appointed by the junta. Ambassadors, junta members, and members of the king's Privy Council were also present at the convention, which came a day after an anti-junta party leader was suspended as a member of parliament over his alleged illegal holding of shares in a media company after registering as a candidate for the election. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the youth-oriented Future Forward Party, would be suspended from taking his seat until a ruling by the Constitutional Court, which could see him permanently disqualified. Thanathorn has denied the charge and said he had already transferred his shares before he officially registered. The March 24 election pitted supporters of the junta, who seek to keep Prayuth in power, against the Democratic Front of seven parties that wants to keep the military out of politics.
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