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November 13, 2008

Bangkok governor resigns ‘to set political standard’
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin announced his resignation Wednesday after an anti-corruption commission found him guilty of wrongdoing in a firefighting equipment scandal, reported Kyodo news agency.

Apirak, reelected as Bangkok governor only last month, told reporters he believes in his innocence and is ready to fight the case through the judicial system.

He added he decided to resign because he want to "set a standard" for Thai politicians.

"I decided to resign because I and the Democrat Party believe in political standards, but I have to apologise to the people of Bangkok for this matter," he said.

Some ministers in the national government have remained in their posts even though they also are involved in scandals.

Apirak's resignation will be effective after the royal cremation ceremony for Princess Galyani Vadhana next Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the National Counter Corruption Commission unanimously found Apirak and another six officials, including former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, were involved in the irregular procurement of overpriced firefighting trucks and boats from an Austrian company four years ago.

The NCCC said Apirak ignored his responsibility as governor by continuing the project even though he was aware of irregularities relating to the contract signed by his predecessor Samak, who was then governor, 2004.

Samak, who became prime minister after his People Power Party won the December 2007 general election, was unseated for appearing in cooking shows by the Constitutional Court two months ago.

The NCCC's next step is to forward the case to the Attorney General's Office.

Apirak's resignation means the Election Commission must hold a new election for governor within 90 days.

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