Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Thai king endorses new PM Abhisit

New Thai Prime Minister-elect Abhisit Vejjajiva
Abhisit Vejjajiva has a reputation for clean politics

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has given his endorsement for Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to become prime minister.

Thai television showed footage of the king signing the notice of appointment.

The step formalises Mr Abhisit's ascent to power after 16 years in politics, making him the country's third leader in as many months.

He has promised to tackle economic woes deepened by a political crisis which has starkly divided Thai society.

Speaking in a TV address after his endorsement as prime minister, Mr Abhisit issued a call for national unity and pledged to fix the country's "failed politics".

Earlier he said he would unveil an economic stimulus package in January.

Abhisit Vejjajiva makes a televised address

Amid continuing negotiations over the shape of his new cabinet, Mr Abhisit promised to "choose competent people to implement policies that are crucial to revive our country".

And he added that he would not allow anti-government protests which recently shut down Bangkok's domestic and international air terminals - stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers and striking a blow to the economy - to happen again.


Born in Britain, educated at Eton and Oxford
Entered parliament in 1992 as one of its youngest members
Party leader since 2005
Opposed military coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra

The British-born Mr Abhisit is now, at 44, one of the world's youngest heads of government, and carries a rare reputation for probity.

He came to office after defections in parliament by some supporters of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed by the military and remains in exile overseas.

Mr Abhisit's Democrat Party has failed to win the past three elections in Thailand.

His first and most difficult challenge will be to calm the intense political atmosphere that has seen the country bitterly divided between supporters and opponents of Mr Thaksin.

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