Bangkok, Aug 22 (EFE).- Former construction magnate Srettha Thavisin was elected prime minister by Thailand’s bicameral parliament on Tuesday after more than three months of parliamentary logjam since the general elections in May.
Thavisin, 60, of the Pheu Thai party – the second largest party following the elections -, secured the support of the elected lower house, including representatives of the pro-military parties, and a majority of the senators handpicked by the former military junta (2014-2019).
The election of the new prime minister comes just hours after the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was sent to prison shortly after returning from a 15-year exile.
The coalition led by Pheu Thai, which includes 10 other parties – including two linked to the military that seized power in a coup d’état in 2014 – secured the support of 330 of the nearly 500-member House of Representatives and 152 of the 249 members in the Senate.
Overall, it got the support of 482 members from the bicameral Parliament, while 164 voted against and 81 abstained.
Thavisin, close to the Shinawatra family, joined Pheu Thai in 2022 and a few months ago resigned as CEO of Sansiri, one of Thailand’s leading construction companies, to focus on his political career.
The election of the new prime minister ends months of logjam in the parliament following the unexpected victory in the May 14 elections of the Move Forward party, a progressive group that advocates taking away political power from the military and reducing the power of the monarchy.
Despite securing the most number of seats, the coalition led by Move Forward party – of which Pheu Thai was a part – was unable to form the government as it did not receive the backing of the Senate, whose members were handpicked by the military.
On Aug. 2, Pheu Thai decided to break its alliance with Move Forward and create its own coalition, which received the support of several conservative parties, including the pro-military groups Palang Pracharat and the United Thai Nation.
The latest development coincided with the return of Thaksin, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006 and is believed to pull the strings of Pheu Thai party from the shadows.
The 74-year-old former prime minister arrived on a private plane at Don Muang Airport, where he was able to briefly greet his followers and prostrate himself before a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn. before being taken to jail to serve a 8-year sentence for several convictions in absentia.
Thaksin claims the charges against him are politically motivated. His situation is likely to change now given that the Pheu Thai has returned to power with the backing of the pro-military parties.
Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was also deposed in a controversial court decision in May 2014, two weeks before the military took power in a coup. She continues to remain in exile. EFE