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Somchai Wongsawat is the 26th Thai prime minister

Somchai Wongsawat, brother-in-law of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, became the 26th Thai prime minister after winning voting in the parliament on Wednesday.

Somchai Wongsawat is the 26th Thai prime minister

Somchai Wongsawat, brother-in-law of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is elected as the 26th prime minister of Thailand as the new leader of Thailand on Wednesday.

The lower house of Parliament voted 298 in favor of Somchai Wongsawat, 61, while a sole contestant, Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, won 198 votes.

Standing from his seat in the Parliament after House Speaker Chai Chidchob read out the tally, Somchai said, "I would like to thank everyone for your confidence. I will carry out my duty to the best of my ability."

Somchai then walked over to Abhisit and shook his hand.

Somchai was education minister and became the acting prime minister after Samak Sundaravej was disqualified from office last week Tuesday when a Constitution Court found him guilty of violating the constitution.

Somchai, a Nakhon Si Thammarat native, is married to Yaowapa, the younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin.

Yaowapa was an executive member of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party and lost her voting right when the party was dissolved. His daughter Chinnicha is the youngest female MP in the current House of Representatives.

Political observers said Somchai's strength lies in his soft and gentle character, which is why he would be the perfect person to negotiate an end to political tensions with the anti-government group, People's Alliance for Democracy.

Somchai was justice permanent secretary from 1999 to 2006, and then became permanent secretary for the Labour Ministry.

In 2003, when Somchai was permanent secretary of justice, he made headlines for conflicting with then-justice minister Purachai Piumsombun over the ministry's budget.




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