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Supachai to be new Thai PM: Papers

The former WTO head has tentatively accepted an invitation from Thailand's new military rulers to be interim PM.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 18:52 IST

Former World Trade Organisation (WTO) head Supachai Panitchpakdi has tentatively accepted an invitation from Thailand's new military rulers to be interim Prime Minister, newspapers said on Tuesday.

Supachai, now head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, agreed to the post after persuasion from top royal adviser Prem Tinsulanonda, the English-language Nation said, quoting "high-placed sources".

Thai-language newspapers carried similar reports.

Within days of the Sept. 19 military putsch against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Supachai had emerged as a clear favourite to run the country on an interim basis while a new constitution was worked out.

Besides his international experience, the Netherlands-educated bureaucrat has held a number of government posts, including that of commerce minister after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who has promised an interim civilian prime minister would be in place within two weeks of the coup, refused to confirm the reports.

"I have someone in mind, but would rather not say it at this time. I will try to pick a prime minister as soon as possible," he told a news conference in answer to a direct question about the Supachai reports.

The interim prime minister would have free rein to make decisions, Sonthi said, echoing comments by other military leaders backing up their initial promise to step back once a civilian government was in place.

He repeated that martial law, imposed immediately after the coup, would be lifted as soon as possible, but declined to be specific.

First Published: Sep 26, 2006 09:02 IST