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born 21 March 1954) is a Thai politician, retired Royal Thai Army general officer, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and concurrently serves as the Prime Minister of Thailand. The council, which he appointed himself along with other junta members, has the power to name the prime minister and control prime ministerial positions.

Prayut is a former Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, the post he held from October 2010 to October 2014. After his appointment as army chief, Prayut was characterised as a strong royalist and an opponent of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Considered a hardliner within the military, he was one of the leading proponents of military crackdowns on the Red Shirt demonstrations of April 2009 and April–May 2010. He later sought to moderate his profile, talking to relatives of protesters who were killed in the bloody conflict, and co-operating with the government of Shinawatra  who won parliamentary elections in July 2011.

During the political crisis that began in November 2013 and involved protests against the caretaker government of Yingluck, Prayut claimed that the army was neutral, and would not launch a coup. Yet in May 2014, Prayut staged a military coup against the government and then assumed control of the country as NCPO leader. He later issued an interim constitution granting himself sweeping powers and giving himself amnesty for staging the coup. In August 2014, a military-dominated national legislature, whose members were handpicked by Prayut, non-democratically appointed him Prime Minister. After seizing power, Prayut launched crackdowns on dissent.He required all students in Thai schools to recite the "twelve values" as formulated by him. He has also banned public discussion about democracy and any criticism of his government, placing heavy restrictions on freedom of expression in Thailand