Unity call as Thai parliament opens

New assembly dominated by allies of Thaksin Shinawatra to elect new PM on Friday.

    Samak Sundaravej, centre, is widely expected to
    be named as Thailand's new prime minister [EPA]

    "I am confident that the members of this parliament ... see there are still some problems threatening our nation. Your mission is very important to restore stability and make the country unite, with stability and peace."

    The opening day is largely ceremonial, with the real work getting under way on Tuesday with the election of the speaker of the house.

    On Friday, the parties will nominate and vote for Thailand's 25th prime minister, widely expected to be Samak Sundaravej, leader of the PPP.

    Thaksin revival

    The revival of Thaksin's political fortunes is a serious setback to the army generals, who had deposed him in September 2006.

    Thaksin and 110 of his senior officials were banned from politics after the bloodless coup. His once-dominant Thai Rak Thai [Thais Love Thais] party was also disbanded. 

    However, he remains popular among the rural majority who benefited from his populist policies and voted heavily in favour of his allies in the election.

    Sundaravej served as Thaksin's deputy in the mid-nineties and is accused of being a proxy for the former prime minister who is currently out of the country.

    The PPP government is expected to welcome Thaksin back to Thailand from exile by April.
    Surayud Chulanont, Thailand's caretaker prime minister and the man the military installed after the 2006 coup, told Al Jazeera that he hopes Sundaravej would lead the country to reconciliation.
    "I always said that whoever gained the most votes had an absolute right to rule," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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