Thai king approves cabinet despite criticism

December 21st, 2008 - 3:35 am ICT by IANS  

Abhisit Vejjajiva
Bangkok, Dec 21 (DPA) Thailand’s king gave his approval to the country’s new cabinet Saturday, despite criticism that several cabinet members in charge of economic issues lack experience.Abhisit Vejjajiva, the new prime minister, told television stations his government was “good enough and committed enough” to restore an economy that has been rocked not only by the global economic crisis, but also months of local political turmoil culminating in the closure of Bangkok’s two airports, from Nov 25 to Dec 3.

The cabinet is scheduled to be sworn in Monday in the presence of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Some of the new ministers are from the junior parties in Abhisit’s five-party coalition. The Thai Chamber of Commerce earlier criticized two of these appointments, saying the nominees - wives of banned politicians - to the commerce and industry portfolios were “inexperienced.”

Other appointments have also elicited controversy, with critics saying some of the new ministers are too close to industry. The choice of Kasit Piromya as foreign minister has also raised eyebrows, given Kasit’s role in anti-government protests targeted at the last administration.

The previous government effectively ended on December 2 after a court ruling forced its dissolution on charges of election fraud. That ruling followed six months of protests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy to oust the People Power Party (PPP), which took power after winning elections in December 2007.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed after a 2006 coup, but had played a behind-the-scenes role in the PPP, remains in self-exile and faces corruption charges if he returns to Thailand.

Abhisit, 44, is leader of the Democrat Party, which has been in the opposition since 2001. He won the premiership Monday on a 235-198 vote in the lower house of Thailand’s parliament.

The Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest party, has taken on the finance ministry as well as the education and public health ministries.

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