BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand’s House of Representatives today elected Thai Rak Thai party leader Thaksin Shinawatra as the nation’s 23rd prime minister, by a majority of 340 votes to 127. Another 30 MPs abstained and three MPs were absent. Thai Rak Thai and its coalition partners, Chart Thai and New Aspiration, were bolstered in the vote by the support of 15 MPs from three smaller parties. The Democrats, who led a six-party coalition in government until they were ousted in the January 6 national elections, voted against Thaksin. But in a surprise move, the Chart Pattana party, which had been expected to join the Democrats in opposition, decided to abstain rather than oppose the nomination. Thaksin’s three-party alliance holds a majority of 325 in the 500-seat lower house, giving him the clearest majority in the history of Thai democracy.
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