Opposition's Abhisit new Thai PM | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 16, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 16, 2008

Opposition's Abhisit new Thai PM


Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was chosen as Thailand's prime minister yesterday in an effort to end months of political turmoil, but the move unleashed new protests by supporters of the previous government who hurled rocks at lawmakers.
Abhisit, 44, one of the world's youngest heads of government gathered 235 votes against 198 by former national police chief Pracha Promnok, a loyalist of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The vote in the lower house of Parliament followed six months of instability caused by anti-government and anti-Thaksin demonstrations that culminated last month with a weeklong takeover of Bangkok's two airports.
The selection of a new prime minister was expected to calm the country's politics, at least temporarily. However, several hundred Thaksin supporters tried to block the gates of Parliament in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the outcome. Riot police later cleared a path for lawmakers to leave the compound.
The demonstrators hurled rocks at vehicles and abuse at lawmakers inside but most dispersed peacefully, saying that they would gather again later Monday in the capital's old historic section.
Following the vote, Abhisit an Oxford-educated politician from an upper class family thanked fellow lawmakers and the public but said he would not talk about politics until he was officially endorsed as prime minister by the constitutional monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This is expected within several days.
Despite Monday's protest outside Parliament, analysts foresee relative stability in coming months following political chaos and the airport siege that ended after a court ruling on Dec. 2 dissolved the ruling People's Power Party and two coalition partners.
It also banned former Premier Somchai Wongsawat, who is Thaksin's brother-in-law, from politics for five years.

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