Page last updated at 17:50 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Thai PM rules out cabinet deals

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on his new government

New Thai leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has told the BBC he will not sell his soul in bargaining over cabinet posts with defectors from the previous government.

Many ministers in the outgoing government are expected to keep their posts, despite strong criticism of their performance.

The new prime minister promised a big package of government spending to help revive the economy.

He also vowed to continue many populist policies of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

'No deals'

No prime minister in recent Thai history has begun his term of office in less favourable conditions.

The country is still bitterly divided, with supporters of the previous government furious about the pressure from the courts, the military and senior royalist officials that forced it from office.

I have made very clear in my talks with all the groups that are joining me why we are putting this coalition together
Abhisit Vejjajiva
Thai Prime Minister

The economy is reeling under the double impact of global events and local political turmoil.

In an interview with the BBC, Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted that his ascent to power was legitimate.

The previous government had failed the country, he said, and his Democrat Party had the right to form a new coalition.

And he promised the quality of his cabinet would not be compromised by bargaining with coalition partners over ministerial posts.

"I haven't sold my soul. And I have made very clear in my talks with all the groups that are joining me why we are putting this coalition together," he said.

"We just want the country to move on. We want the economy to recover, and we want an end to political conflict. And there are no deals."

He accused the previous administrations - led by allies of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - of putting Mr Thaksin's interests before those of the country.

But he promised to continue many of the pro-poor policies that made Mr Thaksin so popular in the countryside.

He said he would work immediately to promote reconciliation between Thailand's rival political camps.

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