On the eve of becoming Thailand’s first female premier, Yingluck Shinawatra denied reports on Thursday that her brother Thaksin would be making government appointments.
Yingluck, who has been described as Thaksin’s “clone”, rejected suggestions from Thai media that the ousted former leader is involved in allocating cabinet posts.
“Cabinet selection is being worked out here in Thailand and Thaksin and other members of the family have no involvement,” said Yingluck, who is set to be voted in as premier by lawmakers on Friday.
Thaksin was removed from power in a 2006 military coup and lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption. But he remains influential and several local newspapers have reported that he will hand-pick the new government line-up.
Political novice Yingluck was transformed from a relatively unknown businesswoman to elected leader in a matter of weeks on the back of her fugitive brother’s popularity.
However, since her Puea Thai party won a thumping majority in the July 3 election, she has sought to proclaim a level of independence from Thaksin.
The Democrat Party of outgoing prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has lodged an as yet unresolved complaint against Puea Thai, alleging that banned politicians were involved in its campaign over its slogan “Thaksin thinks, Puea Thai does”.
Thailand’s 28th prime minister faces the challenge of bringing stability to the kingdom, which has been politically turbulent in the five years since Thaksin’s ouster.
Other Thaksin allies have been removed from power by the courts following the coup and the country has seen damaging pro- and anti- Thaksin street protests.
They culminated in mass demonstrations by his “Red Shirt” followers in Bangkok last year, which ended with a military assault and more than 90 people dead. Thaksin is wanted on terrorism charges linked to the unrest.