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NEWS UPDATES 7 June 2010

New Election expected sooner than later, Thai PM

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Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said elections could be held sooner than expected if the reconciliation plan pursued by his government received good cooperation, during his current visit to Ho Chi Minh City where he is attending the World Economic Forum.

One of the key demands of the red shirts protestors were early elections which Abhisit had accepted when he conceded to their demands initially.

He said that a state of emergency would remain in place in Bangkok."We are back, stable and secure," he told the gathering of global business leaders and regional politicians. He said he was "very determined" to achieve national reconciliation and believed most protesters did not want violence. Some of their leaders, however, "have their own agenda". "I'm willing to talk to all the elements who refuse the use of violence and illegal means to achieve political ends," he said.

On the economy, Mr Abhisit said the country's 12% gross domestic product growth in the first quarter had been "very impressive". Forecasts had been revised downward, but he hoped to achieve 6% for this year.

His Majesty the King yesterday endorsed the appointment of eight new ministers and deputy ministers proposed by Mr Abhisit. They will take an oath before His Majesty at Siriraj Hospital today.

The new cabinet line-up, which includes members of the Matubhum Party, gives Mr Abhisit a comfortable majority in parliament as the coalition parties will now have about 265 votes in the 475-seat lower house.

Mr Abhisit said during his weekly address yesterday the government needed a strong majority in the House to move its policies forward.

The decision to oust a faction of the Puea Pandin Party from the coalition was intended to ensure the administration's stability, he said.

Bhumjaithai made it clear to Mr Abhisit after the vote that it could no longer work with the group and pressed him to order their expulsion.

Some Democrat Party cabinet members were also asked to swap portfolios or leave the cabinet.

Mr Abhisit said he wanted to ensure that the red shirts were represented on an independent panel which would be set up to review what happened over the past two months.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, the rector of the National Institute of Development Administration, had accepted the invitation of the PM oversee changes to the constitution.


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