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New PM vows to fix "failed" Thai politics

world Updated: Dec 18, 2008 07:59 IST
New PM vows to fix

Thailand's new prime minister pledged to fix the country's "failed political system" and work for all Thais, who have been divided by six months of political unrest culminating in a siege of Bangkok's airports.

Abhisit Vejjajiva vowed in his inaugural address to reunite the deeply divided nation and to restore Thailand's tourist-friendly image. The eight-day airport shutdown battered the country's essential tourism industry and stranded more than 300,000 travelers.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country's constitutional monarch, formally endorsed Abhisit's nomination as prime minister yesterday evening, making him the nation's third prime minister in four months.

Wearing a white ceremonial uniform, Abhisit made overtures to the impoverished rural masses who were the foundation of previous governments' support.

"I will work for all Thai people, both those who voted for me and against me," he said. "Today, our country must be united."

He said his government would retain populist policies, including cheap credit and health care, implemented under exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has loomed over Thai politics since he was ousted by a military coup in 2006.

"I am well aware that the political situation is abnormal," said Abhisit, speaking shortly after he was sworn in. "My first job is to end a failed political system."

Abhisit, 44, was voted by Parliament to be the country's prime minister on Monday after a court dissolved the party leading the previous government, which was packed with Thaksin's allies.