AP: “Thai opposition leader becomes prime minister”
Lawmakers chose an opposition leader as Thailand’s prime minister Monday in a bid to end months of political chaos, as supporters of the previous government unsuccessfully tried to halt the result by blockading Parliament.
The articulate, Oxford-educated Abhisit Vejjajiva, who heads the Democrat Party, gathered 235 votes against 198 by former national police chief Pracha Promnok, a loyalist of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The lower house vote 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.
And a snip from the end of the story:
Abhisit and his party enjoy strong support from the middle class and many in the business sector. But Sukhum Nuansakul, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng University, said the hopes of many for a respite from political instability was likely to be short-lived.
“The fundamental problem has not been resolved,” Sukhum said. “A Democrat win sets the stage for another round of street protests, this time by pro-Thaksin groups.”
Panithan Wattanayagorn, a political analyst from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, predicted that Abhisit was going to face “among Thailand’s roughest premierships.”