Property Mogul Srettha Thavisin Elected Prime Minister Of Thailand

Thai property mogul Srettha Thavisin was elected prime minister after a decisive win in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday (Aug 22) as his party’s fugitive figurehead Thaksin Shinawatra made a historic homecoming after years in exile and was taken straight to jail.

The victory by 60-year-old Srettha paves the way for a new coalition government, ending weeks of uncertainty and stalemate in parliament after an election 100 days ago that threatened to weaken the political clout of the country’s powerful military.

Srettha, who was thrust into the spotlight just a few months ago by the populist heavyweight Pheu Thai, won the support of two-thirds of parliament in a vote that followed hours of hysteria in Thailand over the long-awaited return of Thaksin from self-imposed exile.

“I will perform my duties to the best of my ability. I will work tirelessly to improve the livelihood of all Thais,” Srettha told reporters at Pheu Thai’s headquarters, his voice drowned out by supporters chanting “Srettha, Srettha”.

Thaksin received a rapturous reception after he arrived on his jet at a Bangkok airport early on Tuesday, where he briefly met Pheu Thai lawmakers before being escorted by police to the Supreme Court and then to a prison to serve a sentence of eight years for abuse of power and conflicts of interest.

Political neophyte Srettha, a former president of luxury property developer Sansiri, will be tasked with forming and holding together a potentially fragile coalition that includes parties created by the royalist military, which overthrew Pheu Thai governments in 2006 and 2014 coups.

Among those ousted was Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon and owner of Premier League football club Manchester City, who was accused by the army of corruption, cronyism and disloyalty to the powerful monarchy.

Srettha was declared by Pheu Thai as a prime ministerial candidate, alongside Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Thaksin’s youngest daughter, in the run-up to a May 14 election in which the party finished second.

An attempt to form a coalition with the election winner, the progressive Move Forward, collapsed after it met fierce resistance from conservative members of the lower house and senators under the influence of the military.

Srettha is not a member of parliament. Thailand’s constitution allows for the election of an “outside” prime minister who is not a member of parliament, if no coalition can agree on who should take on the role.

Source Reuters

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