Outgoing Thai PM chairs last cabinet meet
Thaksin Shinawatra chaired his last cabinet meeting today, a day after stunning the country by saying that he would step down.india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 11:44 IST
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra chaired his last cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a day after stunning the country by saying he would step down.
"It's the last cabinet meeting," a cheerful-looking Thaksin shouted to an army of reporters waiting for him outside his offices.
Most of the premier's 33 cabinet members were on hand for what is expected to be a formal announcement of Thaksin's decision not to stand for the country's top political post after a new parliament is convened.
Thaksin said he was stepping down out of respect for the country's king, who celebrates 60 years on the throne this year.
The move came amid intense pressure for Thaksin to quit over allegations that he abused his power and followed flawed parliamentary elections on Sunday that saw the premier's apparent victory undermined by a huge protest vote.
One cabinet member said on Wednesday that most in Thaksin's inner circle were shocked by the unexpected move.
"Yesterday during the cabinet meeting (Thaksin) still said he would not give up his fight, so last night... was sort of a surprise which caught most of the ministers off-guard," the official said.
Thaksin said he would carry on as caretaker until a successor was chosen. Cabinet meetings will be suspended until a new government is formed.