Thailand elects the country’s first female prime minister in an election which divided the country.
|Yingluck’s party won enough seats to rule alone in majority but she has opted for a coalition government [AFP]|
A day after she led Pheu Thai party to a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra has announced a new five-party coalition government.
Yingluck, a sister of the ousted leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, unveiled an agreement on Monday that gives the new coalition control of about 60 per cent of parliament, or 299 seats.
The accord came unusually quickly, as the Thai constitution allows the new parliament 30 days after the elections to convene and select a house speaker.
Pheu Thai won a majority of 265 in the 500-seat parliament – a margin big enough to rule alone without forming a coalition – and Yingluck is set to become Thailand’s first female prime minister.
Yingluck said on Monday the first mission of her administration would be “how to lead the country to unity and reconciliation” and vowed to boost transparency and to fight corruption.
“I myself, and Pheu Thai, are determined to serve the nation,” she said.
Yingluck said her coalition would be joined by Chart Thai Pattana, with 19 seats in preliminary results; Chart Pattana Pheu Pandin, with 7 seats; Palang Chon, 7; and Mahachon, 1.
Earlier on Monday Abhisit Vejjajiva, the outgoing prime minister, resigned from the leadership of the Democrat party, taking responsibility for his party’s loss.
“As the election results came out with the party winning fewer votes and fewer seats than in the 2007 poll, and in the spirit of a good leader of an organisation, I should take responsibility,” he said.
Abhisit said the Democrats would hold a general meeting within 90 days to choose a successor.
Thailand has been suffering from political instability for the past several years since Thaksin, a telecoms tycoon turned prime minister, was deposed in a 2006 military coup alongside conviction for corruption.
|Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay reports live from Bangkok|
Thailand has seen 18 coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Sunday’s elections were held amid looming fears of renewed turmoil with memories still fresh of last year’s mass opposition rallies in Bangkok, the capital, which sparked a military crackdown that left at least 91 people dead.
However, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon, the Thai defence minister, eased concern on Monday by saying the army would accept a government led by 44-year-old Yingluck, and promising that the military would not stage a coup.
“I’ve said this several times,” Prawit was quoted as saying by several Thai newspapers. “We are not going to intervene.”
Critics of Yinigluck have voiced concerns that she might function as a power proxy for her billionaire older brother, or perhaps facilitating his return home.
Thaksin faces a two-year prison sentence for corruption, and currently lives in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
He calls the charges politically motivated and has since been wielding significant influence on Thai politics from afar.
Speaking in Dubai on Monday, Thaksin praised the Thai people for the election results. He also denied rumours of his immediate homecoming, calling it “not a major concern” nor “a priority”.
“The top priority is to bring back reconciliation,” he said in an interview to a Thai broadcaster.
He said he would stay in the Gulf emirate for the time being “doing business”, but was willing to advise his sister’s party upon need.
“If they don’t need, I don’t have to worry. The Thai people will be in good hands,” he told a Thai broadcaster.
On his possible return to politics, Thaksin said: “I may be too old … I really want to retire.”