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'Thailand PM vote likely next week'

world Updated: Dec 09, 2008 16:09 IST

Thailand's parliament is likely to elect a new prime minister next week, parliamentary officials said on Tuesday, as the two main parties lobbied for support ahead of the crucial vote.

The vote was triggered a week ago when, after months of anti-government protests, the constitutional court disbanded the ruling People Power Party and ousted Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat in a vote-fraud case.

Most of the PPP's old coalition partners have said they will now join the main opposition Democrat Party and vote for its Oxford-educated leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to be premier.

"In the petition for the extraordinary session already to put to the office of the King's private secretary, we asked for the session to open from December 15 onward," said the office of the secretary general of the lower house.

"The house speaker will later set the agenda to vote on a new prime minister," it said.

MPs from the former ruling party -- who have regrouped under the new name Puea Thai (For Thais) -- insist that they can still muster a majority and have been trying to get the backing of as many lawmakers as possible.

The party said it could nominate a prime ministerial candidate from one of the smaller parties to calm the tensions in Thailand.

The winning candidate requires a simple majority of the 438 MPs eligible to vote for a new premier. Nine MPs in the 447-member house are currently suspended from duty and cannot cast their votes.

The new premier must be chosen by December 30.