Thai opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva elected as new Prime Minister
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thai opposition (Democrat Party) leader Abhisit Vejjajiva won a majority of votes in the House of Representatives of Thailand on Monday and will be named the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand. Abhisit, an economist, got 235 votes against 198 by former national police chief and Pheu Pandin leader Pracha Promnok, a loyalist of fugitive Prime Mininster Thaksin Shinawatra.
The nation's third prime minister in four months, Abhisit, at 44, is set to become the youngest prime minister Thailand has had, and its fifth leader in a little over two years. He will lead a weak coalition government. When prime minister Samak Sundaravej was removed in 2008, Abhisit lost the National Assembly vote for Prime Minister by 163 votes to 298 for Somchai Wongsawat. Later, however, the 2 December 2008 Constitutional Court of Thailand judgment banned the three parties including the PPP, which dissolved the governing coalition. The Court also banned Somchai from politics for five years, and removed him from office. He was succeeded by a deputy.
When it became clear that another government under the For Thais Party or Puea Thai (the successor of the PPP) was not a viable option, the remainder of the Chart Thai Party under Sanan Krachonprasat, the Thais United National Development Party and Neutral Democratic Party, almost all, except for the Royal People Party decided to back a Democrat led coalition thereby endorsing Abhisit as the next Prime Minister.
"Abhisit gained more than half of the vote, therefore I declare that Abhisit has been voted as the new prime minister," House Speaker Chai Chidchob declared. Abhisit's election, however, differs however from its confirmation by the Parliament. In this regared. Yahoo reported that "the count in the House of Representatives was unofficial and the chamber needed to official endorse the results before Abhisit could be declared prime minister. The chamber normally has 480 members, but because of vacancies currently numbers 437. One MP died on the eve of the voting."
Thaksin, who is living in an undisclosed foreign country to evade corruption charges, delivered a pre-recorded video message to about 50,000 supporters at a Bangkok stadium late Saturday. "At the moment the army is interfering... Those people who interfere in forming the government must stop and withdraw," he said. Army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, however, dismissed his accusations.
Meanwhile, Thaksin's supporters, from the now-defunct People Power Party and Pheu Thai party, consisting of at least 200 demonstrators blocked access to Thailand's parliament building. The Nation reported that red shirt protesters "barricaded all gates out of the compound, checked cars trying to leave, while some cars had windows broken with clubs or bricks, and cars carrying MPs who had voted for Mr. Abhisit were not allowed through." The turmoil results in forcing officials and reporters to cover themselves. A reporter was "injured after a stone hit stone hit his nose, while an anti-riot police suffered head wound after an object hit his head," it said. "Police failed to calm them down, and they further organised protests in many provinces of Thailand, mostly in the northeastern region," The Thai newspaper further reported.
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