Thailand's biggest anti-junta party, Pheu Thai, elects new leader

BANGKOK • The Pheu Thai Party has elected Mr Sompong Amornvivat to lead Thailand's biggest opposition party into Parliament, pledging to keep the coalition government under close scrutiny.

Mr Sompong was picked at a special assembly last Friday to succeed acting head Viroj Pao-in, who resigned earlier this month.

"Our important duty is to scrutinise the workings of the government," Mr Sompong said in a comment posted on Pheu Thai's official Twitter page.

Among other key executive board positions, Mr Anudith Nakornthap was named as the new secretary-general, replacing Mr Phumtham Wechayachai, according to the party's official website.

Thailand last Thursday unveiled a new list of Cabinet members which includes former officials of the outgoing junta as well as lawmakers from some of the 19 parties in the governing alliance.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha faces the challenging task of preventing fractures in the sprawling coalition and passing legislation with only a thin majority in the Lower House.

Mr Prayut, a former army chief, seized power in a coup in 2014 after a period of unrest, and was picked to return as premier in a joint vote of the elected Lower House and junta-appointed Senate last month.

An opposition coalition that is fiercely critical of what it sees as the continuation of military rule controls almost half the Lower House, increasing the odds of friction in Parliament.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 14, 2019, with the headline 'Thailand's biggest anti-junta party, Pheu Thai, elects new leader'. Print Edition | Subscribe