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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"Mr Thaksin could be forced out of office in a couple of months"
 real 56k

Suranand Vejjajiva, Thai Rak Thai party spokesman
"Thai Rak Thai is still a major force in the Thai political scene"
 real 56k

Friday, 9 February, 2001, 05:47 GMT
Thai parliament votes Thaksin as PM
New Thai prime minister Thaksin at opening parliament on Monday
The new parliament opened on Monday
The lower house of parliament in Thailand has confirmed the controversial billionaire businessman, Thaksin Shinawatra, as the new prime minister.

Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party won elections last month and has since enlisted the support of two other parties to form probably the most stable governing coalition in Thailand's history.

However, Mr Thaksin faces a constitutional court ruling on his conviction last year for concealing assets, which could yet bar him from office.

The final results, which were announced last week almost four weeks after the 6 January poll, gave Thai Rak Thai 248 seats - just short of an overall parliamentary majority.

In Friday's vote, Mr Thaksin secured a majority of 340 parliamentary votes to 127 in the 500-seat parliament.

Coalition partners

Ballot boxes
The election was marred by allegations of fraud
Thai Rak Thai leads a coalition with the smaller Chart Thai and New Aspiration parties, controlling a total of 325 seats. Three smaller parties also gave their support on Friday.

Another 30 MPs abstained, including those of the Chart Pattana party, who had been expected to join the main opposition party, the Democrats, in opposing the nomination. Three MPs were absent

Both Chart Thai and New Aspiration are led by former prime ministers which a BBC correspondent says has already dented Mr Thaksin's claim that he is offering Thailand a fresh start.

Fraud

It was the first election under a new constitution designed to reduce electoral fraud.

Nonetheless, allegations of vote-buying and electoral irregularities caused the election commission to run fresh votes in 62 constituencies.

More than half the disqualified winners were Thai Rak Thai candidates. Before the re-elections the party had appeared to secure 256 seats.

The election commission has warned that it is continuing investigations into reports of widespread fraud and might order further votes or disqualify lawmakers after parliament opens.

Mr Thaksin has said he would appoint a new cabinet on 14 February and detail his policy plans on 25 February.

But if the constitutional court upholds the findings of an anti-corruption commission that he failed to declare assets in a previous government, he could face a five year ban from holding public office.

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thaksin's rocky road to power
31 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Rush to get 'village' status in Thailand
29 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thais return to polls
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Violence disrupts Thai count
08 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Economy is key issue for Thais
16 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fraud threatens Thai coalition
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