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Veteran MP elected as Thailand's new House Speaker
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Thailand's House of Representatives on Monday elected veteran MP Chai Chidchob, nominated by the ruling People Power Party (PPP), as the new House Speaker to succeed Yongyuth Tiyapairat who earlier resigned due to electoral fraud charges against him.

Chai Chidchob, a party-list member of parliament of PPP, won 283 votes, mostly from the PPP MPs, against the only rival Banyat Bantadtan, a MP of the opposition Democrat Party, who won 158 votes in the 480-seat House, according to local TV Channel Eleven. The special parliament meeting to vote a new House Speaker was called after the PPP, the core party of the coalition government, agreed unanimously last week to choose Chai as the party's candidate for the top parliament post vacated by PPP MP Yongyuth.

First Deputy House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranand, a PPP MP, chaired Monday's meeting.

80-year-old Chai Chidchob, a multi-time MP and veteran politician from the northeastern province of Buri Ram, is father of Newin Chidchob, one of the 111 executives of the former ruling party Thai Rak Thai (TRT) who were banned from political activities for five years after the TRT was disbanded on a court order on electoral fraud charges last May.

Chai won a seat in the House as a PPP party-list MP candidate in the Dec. 23 election in Buri Ram.

One of the parties in the coalition government-- Chart Thai ( Thai Nation) Party has abstained from Monday's voting as a gesture of protest, after the party called an urgent meeting on Sunday, during which party leader Banharn Silpa-archa complained about the PPP's approach in securing votes of coalition parties to support Chai's nomination.

Chart Thai has 37 seats in the 480-seat House, while PPP controls 233 seats. The six coalition parties altogether have 315 MPs in the House.

Responding to reporters' questions after Monday's voting, Interior Minister and PPP MP Chalerm Yubamrung said that Chart Thai's abstaining had no impact since Chai has won enough votes to become the new House Speaker.

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