Key dates leading up to Thai PM vote

BANGKOK, Dec 15, 2008 (AFP) - Thailand's drawn-out political dogfight returned to parliament Monday as lawmakers voted in opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as Thailand's 27th prime minister.

Supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra block the entrance to the Parliament in Bangkok on Dec. 15 (Photo: AFP)

He becomes the third prime minister in four months, as Thailand grapples to end half a year of crippling turmoil that peaked with the closure of Bangkok's two airports earlier this month by royalist anti-government protesters.

Here are the key events leading up to Monday's vote:

December 23, 2007: Samak Sundaravej, a gruff former Bangkok governor, leads the People Power Party (PPP) to election victory, restoring democracy after a coup in September 2006 ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who backs the PPP.

May 25, 2008: The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) anti-government group launches street protests calling for Samak to resign for seeking constitutional amendments it believes are aimed at helping Thaksin.

The PAD also led protests that resulted in the 2006 coup against Thaksin.

August 26: At least 35,000 PAD-led protesters raid a TV station, surround three ministries and break into the prime minister's Bangkok cabinet offices, which they would occupy for three months.

September 9: Samak is stripped of his premiership by the Constitutional Court for accepting payment for hosting two television cookery shows, and his cabinet is forced to step down.

September 17: After fierce infighting among PPP lawmakers and their five coalition partners, parliament elects Somchai Wongsawat -- Thaksin's brother-in-law -- as Thailand's new prime minister.

November 23: The PAD launches what it calls its "final battle" to try to topple Somchai's government and to avenge the death of two protesters in grenade attacks at the prime minister's Government House offices.

November 25: Thousands of PAD supporters storm Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport, forcing the major global hub to suspend services, and a day later they perform the same feat at Don Mueang domestic airport.

December 2: The Constitutional Court dissolves the ruling PPP and two of its coalition partners and bans Somchai from politics for five years because of electoral fraud charges dating back to the December elections.

The PAD gives up its siege of the two airports a day later, and the political horse-trading aimed at forming a new government begins.

December 15: Parliament holds a special session with Abhisit selected as new prime minister after winning 235 votes to 198 for ex-police chief Pracha Promnog, who had been proposed by the former ruling party and its allies.

The PPP had reformed under the name Puea Thai (For Thais), but four smaller parties and a faction of former PPP lawmakers defected to the Democrats.

Source: AFP

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