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HomeasiaThai ruling party elects Thaksin's daughter as leader

Thai ruling party elects Thaksin's daughter as leader

BANGKOK: Thailand’s ruling party on Friday (Oct 27) elected the daughter of jailed billionaire ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its leader.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Thaksin’s youngest daughter, was voted unopposed to become Pheu Thai’s new leader, two years after entering politics.

Thaksin, the most influential but divisive politician in recent Thai history, returned to the kingdom in August from 15 years in self-imposed exile after being ousted in a 2006 coup.

“The new administrative body of Pheu Thai must improve itself to lead the party to becoming number one for the people again,” Paetongtarn told party members and reporters, wearing a red suit, the party’s signature colour.

Paetongtarn, 37, was the figurehead of Pheu Thai’s campaign for the May general election and has plans to modernise the party.

Pheu Thai is the latest incarnation of the political movement founded by her father, but it was beaten into second place in the May poll by the upstart progressive Move Forward Party.

The result came as a shock to a movement that had previously claimed most seats at every Thai election since 2001.

Paetongtarn received 289 votes with one abstention during the party’s general meeting on Friday morning.

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Yuttaporn Issrachai, a political analyst, said the announcement follows the pattern of Pheu Thai’s “family-run style”.

“It is an effort to modernise the party, but in the end, the core of the party is still the same. It belongs to the Shinawatra clan,” he told AFP.

However, Pheu Thai’s deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai defended the move, saying Paetongtarn earned the leadership role.

“It’s not because of her surname. We select people based purely on their qualifications,” he told reporters.

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