New Thai PM admits business leaders unhappy with cabinet picks

    BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand's new premier Abhisit Vejjajiva Friday admitted business leaders disliked his ministerial choices, in a blow to his declared plan to tackle the lacklustre economy on taking office.

    Abhisit's Democrat Party managed to form a ruling coalition last week after intense horsetrading between parties, but the negotiations had forced him to offer cabinet posts to his opponents, he said.

    The cabinet list is now being finalised before being sent to the palace for the king's approval.

    "During my meeting with Thailand's Board of Trade we exchanged ideas and they complained to me that they are disappointed with the potential cabinet ministers," Abhisit told reporters after the meeting.

    "I explained to them that my duty is to find balance within the administration so that the country can move forward and my government can tackle the economic malaise," he said.

    Thailand's economic growth forecast for next year has been slashed to two percent from about four percent this year after crippling political protests.

    Board of Trade chairman Pramon Suthiwong said he disliked Abhisit's choices for the industry and commerce portfolios.

    "They are inexperienced and if possible I want him to change his mind before submitting to the king," Pramon told reporters.

    Local media have speculated that the post of commerce minister has been given to Pornthiwa Nakasai of small coalition partner Phum Jai Thai, with industry going to Ranongruk Suwanchawee of coalition partner Puea Pandin.

    Both women apparently have no direct experience of each portfolio.

    Abhisit became Thailand's 27th prime minister last week after months of political turmoil that culminated in an eight-day blockade of Bangkok's airports.

    The protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy began in May and ended only on December 3 when a court ruling forced premier Somchai Wongsawat from office and dissolved his People Power Party.

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