Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was elected as Thailand's new prime minister at a special voting session in the House of Representatives on Monday.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of Thailand's opposition Democrat Party, speaks at parliament in Bangkok on Dec. 8, 2008. [Xinhuanet.com]
Official tally results, as announced by House Speaker Chai Chidchob at around 11:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), showed Abhisit gained 235 votes from the total 437 incumbent members of parliament in the House, against the 198 votes for the other candidate -- Puea Thai Party leader Pracha Promnok.
A total of 436 MPs have cast their votes. Three MPs abstained, including Abhisit himself. Chai closed the session immediately after announcing Abhisit's victory in the voting.
A simple majority, which means at least 219, out of the 437 MP seats, is required for any candidate to be elected a prime minister.
The 44-year-old Abhisit will officially become the country's 27th prime minister pending royal endorsement from the King.
The results mean the Democrat Party returned to the ruling seat after seven years on the opposition bench since Thaksin Shinawatraand his Thai Rak Thai party came to power in 2001.
Monday's special parliamentary session, which kicked off at 9:30 a.m. (0230 GMT), was called after former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat lost his premiership with a Constitutional Court verdicton Dec. 2 that disbanded Somchai's People Power Party (PPP), the leading party in the former coalition government formed in September, on electoral fraud charges.
Somchai was Thaksin's brother-in-law and seen as opponents as a proxy of Thaksin, who went on exile after the Sept. 19, 2006 military coup that ousted him from the premiership.
Dozens of "red-shirt" people, who are supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin and the pro-Thaksin parties like PPP and Puea Thai, gathered outside the parliament compound since the morning. Learning the results, the angry demonstrators were seen attacking the compound gate with iron police barriers.
They also attacked some Democrat MPs' cars parking outside the parliament and demanded a House dissolution.
(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2008)