Bangkok, Sep 17: On Wednesday, Somchai Wongsawat was elected as the new Prime Minister by Thailand parliament. He is 26th head of government to replace his predecessor Samak Sundaravej who was disqualified by the judiciary for a constitutional violation.
Somchai, 61, brother-in-law of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a coup d'etat two years ago, was supported by 298 lawmakers in the parliament vote on Wednesday, Sep 17 morning. He was challenged by main opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva who could secure the backing of only the 163 members of his party. Somchai was caretaker prime minister after Samak was ordered by the Constitution Court to resign for hosting a cooking show on commercial television.
The election of the new prime minister came in the wake of a reported split within the lead ruling colalition People Power Party (PPP) over Somchai's nomination that had led to growing speculation of an imminent snap election.
Political observers noted that Somchai's appointment as prime minister is unlikely to lead to an early resolution of the political standoff in the country with the influential anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) campaign still opposing a PPP-led government.