Prayuth Chan-ocha präyo͞ot´ chän-ōchä´ [key], 1954–, Thai army officer and political leader. After training at the Royal Military Academy, he joined the Thai army in 1972, rising to become chief of staff (2008) and then commander in chief (2010). After the 2006 coup, General Chan-ocha was appointed to the National Legislative Assembly. In 2014 he led a coup that forced ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and scrapped the 2007 constitution; Prayuth retired from the army and was named prime minister. His regime has jailed dissidents and political opponents, and issued an interim constitution giving the military government sweeping powers. In 2016 his government secured adoption of a new constitution that greatly increased the military's influence in the government, and he remained prime minister after the 2019 elections. In July, 2019, he also became defense minister.
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