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No Red Shirts in Cabinet

THAILAND: New Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra finalised her new Cabinet on Tuesday, leaving out controversial leaders of the “Red Shirt” protest movement which helped propel her to power.

Thursday 11 August 2011, 04:43AM

Ms Yingluck took office on Monday with a vow to reunite the troubled nation after years of turmoil following the ousting of her brother Thaksin, including mass street protests by his Red Shirt supporters last year that turned deadly.

Several Red Shirt leaders were elected as lawmakers with Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party but missed out on Cabinet appointments that could have angered Thaksin’s foes in military, government and palace circles.

The Finance Minister’s post went to Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, a former secretary-general of financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission.

General Yuthasak Sasiprapa, a close ally of Thaksin, was tapped as Defence Minister – a key role for the new ruling party, which has endured difficult relations with the military following its overthrow of Thaksin in 2006.

Gen Yuthasak was a deputy defence minister under the former billionaire telecoms tycoon-turned-Premier Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence passed in his absence for corruption.

Laguna Golf Phuket

The Foreign Minister’s job went to Surapong Tovichakchaikul, 58, a relatively-unknown lawmaker with Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party. The line-up was announced after receiving approval from HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Ms Yingluck, a 44-year-old political novice, was elected as Thailand’s first female Premier in a Parliamentary vote on Friday.

She swept to an election victory last month with the support of her brother Thaksin, who is hailed by many rural people for his populist policies while in power but loathed by the Bangkok-based ruling elite.

Ms Yingluck, a businesswoman described by her brother as his “clone”, faces the tough challenge of bringing unity to the politically-volatile kingdom.

The situation escalated last year when more than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed in clashes between the army and Red Shirt protesters. – AFP

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