Yingluck, Yongyuth to pick seats

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The Pheu Thai Party has given Yingluck Shinawatra, its top party list MP, and leader Yongyuth Wichaidit a free hand to fill cabinet posts.

Pheu Thai yesterday called the first full meeting of its executive board since the July 3 general election.

Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the executive board gave Ms Yingluck and Mr Yongyuth authority to select suitable people to assume cabinet posts and other political positions.

They include House speaker, deputy House speakers, chairs of House committees, advisers and secretary to the cabinet, and other political office holders.

Mr Prompong said the party will have to wait for the Election Commission to endorse at least 95% of the winning election candidates before proceeding to name the House speaker.

He said the EC is expected to endorse the required 95%, or 475 of 500, MPs today, after which the first House meeting can be convened to select the speaker.

A Pheu Thai source said the House is expected to convene by Aug 2 and that many factions within Pheu Thai are now busy jockeying for the post of speaker.

The source also said MP for Khon Kaen Somsak Kiatsuranont and list MP Col Apiwan Wiriyachai have emerged as strong contenders for the post.

Mr Somsak has managed to distance himself from the red shirts, which means he will not be a target for attack from the opposition, whereas Col Apiwan is a United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader and thus vulnerable to an opposition onslaught.

Col Apiwan yesterday said that in selecting cabinet ministers, preference will be given to party MPs.

Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan and a UDD member Worachai Hema said Col Apiwan is suited to the job of speaker. His experience as deputy House speaker in previous governments is a definite plus for the job, Mr Worachai said.

Despite being a red shirt co-leader, Col Apiwan had always been recognised by his colleagues as maintaining neutrality when performing his duty as deputy House speaker, Mr Worachai said.

Ms Yingluck yesterday stressed that the party must pick the best people to become cabinet ministers and that the party will also consider picking outsiders.

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