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Thaksin Adviser Elected Speaker of Thai Parliament


Thailand's first elected parliament since a military coup 16 months ago has elected a top adviser to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its speaker.

The new parliament, which is dominated by the pro-Thaksin People Power Party, elected Yongyuth Tiyapairat by a vote of 307 - 167 Tuesday during its second day in session.

Yongyuth's first task will be to convene the house to select a new prime minister, widely expected to be PPP leader Samak Sundarvej. The selection is scheduled for Friday.

Meanwhile, the generals who overthrew Mr. Thaksin's government in 2006 held their last meeting Tuesday, deciding to disband the ruling military council and allow elected politicians to take control of the government.

A key item on the newly elected government's agenda is restarting the Thai economy, which slumped following the coup. The PPP's campaign promises included removing capital controls imposed in late 2006.

Mr. Thaksin is in exile. His opponents in the military-appointed interim government ordered his Thai Rak Thai Party disbanded and he was banned from politics.

However, his allies regrouped under the PPP and scored a victory in elections last month.