August 8, 2011 / 10:09 AM / 8 years ago

Yingluck awaits royal nod as Thai cabinet race heats up

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was on Monday putting the finishing touches to a 35-member cabinet expected to be unveiled in the next two days, more than a month after her general election victory on July 3.

Thailand's first female Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to the media after she received the royal command appointed her as the country's new premier at the Puea Thai party headquarters in Bangkok August 8, 2011. REUTERS/Rungroj Yongrit/Pool

Yingluck was awaiting endorsement later on Monday by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, after which she will formally become Thailand’s first female prime minister, five years after her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as premier by the military.

Yingluck, 44, sailed through a parliamentary vote to win the premiership on Friday at the head of a six-party coalition led by her Puea Thai Party.

She refused to give the names of any ministers on Monday, but said four people from outside politics would be brought in.

“Now we’ve discussed this with coalition parties and completed almost 80 percent of the cabinet list,” she told reporters.

The four ministerial posts likely to be taken by outsiders were commerce, finance, defence and a deputy prime minister’s position, according to reports.

Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala is widely tipped to become finance minister after his resignation last week as secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a financial market watchdog, after almost eight years in the job.

Yingluck said on Friday she had discussed the position with Thirachai, a 59-year-old, British-educated accountant and former central bank deputy governor, and confirmed he was a contender.

Media speculation about who will get portfolios has been intense, if unfocused, with newspapers naming multiple candidates for the main ministries and suggesting Thaksin, his former wife, Potjaman na Pombejra, and sister, Yaowapha Wongsawat, were central to the decisions.

Thaksin, the de facto leader of Puea Thai, lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to escape a two-year prison sentence for abuse of power while he was in office from 2001-2006.

In an effort to avoid the charges of cronyism that dogged previous pro-Thaksin governments, Yingluck seems to be drawing up a cabinet that includes respected outsiders seen as politically neutral and awarding more ministerial positions to minor coalition parties than had been anticipated.

Puea Thai controls 265 of the 500 seats in parliament and the six-party coalition has a total of 300. The second-biggest partner, Chart Thai Pattana, is reported to be getting at least three ministerial positions even though it has just 19 seats.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alan Raybould

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