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Thailand set to inaugurate new Parliament

Thailand's new Parliament is set to officially open today, faced with the daunting challenge of bringing stability to the kingdom after five years of political turmoil.

world Updated: Aug 01, 2011 13:01 IST

Thailand's new Parliament is set to officially open on Monday, faced with the daunting challenge of bringing stability to the kingdom after five years of political turmoil.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the opening ceremony in the capital Bangkok in the late afternoon, the palace has said, allowing the 500 seat lower house chamber to get to work later in the week.

Within days, MPs are expected to vote in the country's first female Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra of the Puea Thai party, which on July 3 won a crushing electoral victory to take power from the pro-establishment Democrats.

Yingluck will take to the helm almost five years after her brother, the deeply divisive Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as premier in a military coup. He now lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption.

Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun said 44 year old Yingluck, who is widely seen as a proxy for her brother, had shown surprising charisma since her electoral success and could become "a very capable Prime Minister".

But he said the challenges facing the premier in waiting, a political novice, are formidable. "I think the honeymoon period of Yingluck will be very short. She has so many obstacles in front of her," said Pavin, of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Thailand's political landscape became increasingly polarised following the 2006 coup, with other Thaksin allies removed from power by the courts and paralysing rallies by both pro- and anti-Thaksin camps.

They culminated in mass demonstrations by his "Red Shirt" followers in Bangkok last April and May, which ended with a military assault and more than 90 people dead. Thaksin is wanted on terrorism charges linked to the unrest.