Thailand’s new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra finalized her new cabinet on today, leaving out controversial leaders of the “Red Shirt” protest movement which helped propel her to power.
Yingluck took office on Monday with a vow to reunite the troubled nation after years of turmoil following the ouster of her brother Thaksin, including mass street protests by his Red Shirt supporters last year that turned deadly.
Several Red Shirt leaders were elected as lawmakers with Yingluck’s Puea Thai party but missed out on cabinet appointments that could have angered Thaksin’s foes in military, government and palace circles.
The finance minister’s post went to Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, a former secretary general of financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission.
General Yuthasak Sasiprapa, a close ally of Thaksin, was tapped as defence minister – a key role for the new ruling party, which has endured difficult relations with the military following its overthrow of Thaksin in 2006.
Yuthasak was a deputy defense minister under the former billionaire telecoms tycoon-turned-premier Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence imposed in his absence for corruption.
The foreign minister’s job went to Surapong Tovichakchaikul, 58, a relatively unknown lawmaker with Yingluck’s Puea Thai party. The line-up was announced after receiving approval from Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Yingluck, a 44-year-old political novice, was elected as Thailand’s first female premier in a parliamentary vote on Friday.
Yingluck, a businesswoman described by her brother as his “clone”, faces the tough challenge of bringing unity to the politically volatile kingdom.