Seasoned diplomat poised to replace Thai foreign minister

Seasoned diplomat Maris Sangiampongsa is reportedly the primary candidate to replace Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara as Thailand’s foreign minister following the latter’s sudden resignation. Maris, having served as a diplomatic advisor to Parnpree and ambassador to various nations, including Australia, Nepal, and Canada, is widely anticipated to take up the mantle.

Maris’ diplomatic career spans over two decades, during which he worked closely with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and maintained associations with the influential Shinawatra family. An inside source affirmed Maris’s immense foreign affairs experience and longstanding political connections with the Pheu Thai Party, making him a strong contender for the foreign minister position.

Parnpree, who held the posts of deputy premier and foreign affairs minister concurrently, announced his immediate resignation on Sunday, citing a lack of total support for his roles as the reason. He argued that the singular role of the foreign minister could impede his international work and suggested that other competent candidates could undertake the position.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, acknowledging the resignation, disclosed that a new foreign minister has been chosen but withheld further details. PM Srettha emphasised the new appointee’s behind-the-scenes work on foreign policy for the Pheu Thai Party, adding that the potential minister’s qualifications would be scrutinised before being recommended to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement.

Parnpree’s resignation

In the recent reshuffle, Parnpree lost his deputy prime minister’s portfolio but remained foreign affairs minister until his resignation. The 62 year old Thai prime minister defended the reshuffle, allowing Parnpree to focus entirely on foreign affairs following Jakkapong Sangmanee’s transition from deputy foreign minister to PM’s office minister.

PM Srettha expressed his surprise at Parnpree’s resignation and apologised for any discontent caused by the changes. He also noted the existing six deputy prime ministers, suggesting that it was impractical for all cabinet ministers to simultaneously hold deputy prime minister positions.

Director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Stithorn Thananithichot, observed that the cabinet reshuffle favoured individuals closely associated with the Pheu Thai Party. Thananithichot also highlighted the party’s consistent oversight of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

A Move Forward Party list MP and deputy chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs expressed regret over Parnpree’s departure. Chulapong Yukate praised his remarkable performance as foreign minister. Chulapong urged the Bangkok-born Srettha to promptly appoint a competent successor to address pressing issues such as the Myanmar military conflict and the potential influx of refugees, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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