Paetongtarn elected new Pheu Thai leader

Paetongtarn elected new Pheu Thai leader

Paetongtarn "Ung-Ing" Shinawatra, centre, is elected new leader of the Pheu Thai Party on Friday. (Photo: Pheu Thai Party)

Paetongtarn "Ung-Ing" Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of jailed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has been elected the new leader of the Pheu Thai Party, with Sorawong Thienthong as secretary-general, during a general assembly held at the party's head office on Friday.

The assembly was convened to select a new executive committee following the resignation of Dr Cholnan Srikaew as party leader, honouring his pre-election commitment to step down if Pheu Thai formed a government with the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) or the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party.

Core Pheu Thai members and representatives from provinces began arriving at the party's head office at 8.30am, and the assembly took place on the 7th floor of the office.

Ms Paetongtarn, leader of the Pheu Thai Family, was greeted by party members when she arrived at 9.09am.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra accepts congratulations from Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin following her election. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrived around 11.20am and went straight to the meeting room.

An electronic voting machine, borrowed from the election committee of Bangkok, was used in the party election, and as expected, Ms Paetongtarn, 37, was elected the party leader. She received 289 votes with one abstention.

Twenty-two other members of the executive committee were also elected.

Chusak Sirinil, a party list MP, Julapan Amornvivat, a Chiang Mai MP, Paopoom Rojanasakul, secretary to the finance minister, Pongkawin Juangroongruangkij, an adviser to the transport minister, Jiraporn Sinthuprai, a Roi-et MP, and Ochit Kiatkongchuchai, a Chaiyaphum MP, were named deputy party leaders.

Sorawong Thienthong, a Sa Kaew MP and son of political veteran Sanoh Thienthong, was named party secretary-general, along with his three deputy secretaries-general: Saran Timsuwan, a Loei MP, Sriyada Palimanan, a list MP, and Linthiporn Varinvachararoj, a list MP.

Sorawong Thienthong is the new secretary-general of the Pheu Thai Party. (Photo: Thanarak Khunton)

Danuporn Punnakan, a list MP and former actor, was made party spokesman.

"The new administrative body of Pheu Thai must improve itself to lead the party to becoming number one for the people again," Ms Paetongtarn told party members and reporters, wearing a red suit, the party's signature colour.

Paetongtarn was the figurehead of Pheu Thai's campaign for the May general election and has plans to modernise the party.

Pheu Thai is the latest incarnation of the political movement founded by her father Thaksin, but it was beaten into second place in the May 14 general election by the upstart progressive Move Forward Party.

The result came as a shock to a movement that had previously claimed most seats at every poll since 2001.

Yuttaporn Issrachai, a political analyst, said the announcement follows the pattern of Pheu Thai's "family-run style".

"It is an effort to modernise the party, but in the end, the core of the party is still the same. It belongs to the Shinawatra clan," he told AFP.

However, Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai defended the move, saying Ms Paetongtarn earned the leadership role.

"It's not because of her surname. We select people based purely on their qualifications," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at the Pheu Thai Party's head office on Friday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

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