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Highlights of the week

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Cabinet is undergoing a major facelift just ahead of the looming censure debate, although Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra denied it was a move to pre-empt the opposition's onslaught on certain vulnerable ministers. 

The shakeup will see 14 new - or not so new - faces in the lineup, with several former Thai Rak Thai MPs from the so-called House No 111 being brought into the cabinet, which means that 14 incumbent ministers are to be chopped. The list has gone to the King for royal endorsement and hasn't been officially announced yet.

Altogether 23 cabinet seats are to be affected which means that some of the current ministers who retain their seats will have to swop positions. For instance, Deputy Agriculture Minister Nattawut Saikuar, a red-shirt leader, will be moved to the Commerce Ministry as the deputy minister and his first task will be to defend Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who is targeted for censure over the rice pledging scheme.

It was speculated that Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will lose the deputy premier’s portfolio and be appointed justice minister, replacing Pol Gen Pracha Promnok who is likely to be removed.

It was also speculated that Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa could be dropped from the cabinet list. If that is the case, his removal could impact on the implementation of government policy in the restive deep South as he is also in charge of overseeing the situation in the region.

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