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Thailand elects its first female prime minister

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Summary of story from VOA, August 5, 2011

Yingluck Shinawatra was elected as Thailand’s first female prime minister during a special session of the House of Representatives yesterday.

The 44-year-old businesswoman became the nation’s 28th prime minister after the outcome of the vote was announced – 296 to 3 with 197 abstentions.

Shinawatra’s first job is to select a new cabinet within the next few days and come through on her election promises.

She also has a big job separating herself from the scandal attached to her older brother, and former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

He now lives in exile, having been sentenced to two years in jail for corruption in Thailand, after many accused him of human rights abuses while in power.

There are rumours that both her brother and his wife are advising Shinawatra on new cabinet appointments.

However, she is making her campaign promises of higher minimum wages and higher prices for rice farmers her main focus.

Sunai Pasuk, a representative for Human Right’s Watch in Thailand says, “In economic terms, in the provision of social welfare and all these issues will come back to challenge the integrity and credibility of the government.

“So if there is anything that may challenge the stability of the Yingluck government it is her own policy promises – whether her government can fulfill those promises or not. That will be a major test for her to face”.

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