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Thailand gets first woman premier

Thai MPs have elected Yingluck Shinawatra as the country's first female prime minister.

The lower house of parliament elected the 44-year-old businesswoman, with 296 of the legislature's 500 members voting in Ms Yingluck's favour. Three members voted against and 197 abstained.

The vote comes a month after Ms Yingluck's party won a landslide victory in Thailand's elections.

Ms Yingluck will become Thailand's 28th prime minister, and the fifth since her brother, former Manchester City FC boss Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled in a 2006 military coup.

Before Ms Yingluck can officially assume power, King Bhumibol Adulyadej must endorse her in a separate ceremony expected within days.

Her party won an absolute majority of 265 seats in the 500-member lower house of parliament. Since then the party, Pheu Thai, has consolidated those gains, building alliances with smaller parties to form a 300-seat-strong coalition.

But Thailand's people remain split and Ms Yingluck will face the immediate challenge of keeping the country clear of the sometimes violent unrest it has witnessed since the army toppled her now-exiled brother.

To do so she must navigate complex political terrain and find a delicate equilibrium between the coup-prone army and the elite establishment on one side, and the so-called Red Shirt movement on the other.

The Red Shirts helped vote her into office and want to see justice meted out for the bloody military crackdown that ended its protests in Bangkok last year.

Analysts say Pheu Thai's landslide victory last month boosted Thailand's prospects for stability in the short-term, but that honeymoon may only last a few months.


From Belfast Telegraph