>Thai PM plans major cabinet reshuffle

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Agence France-Presse
First Posted 07/13/2008

BANGKOK--Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej (pictured) announced plans Sunday for a major cabinet reshuffle following a series of legal battles that forced three of his ministers out of office.

The new cabinet line-up will be announced later this month, Samak said, implying that he might wait for a decision in late July in yet another court case that could force three more of his ministers to suspend their duties.

“I will absolutely reshuffle the cabinet. It will be a big reshuffle to make the cabinet better and stronger,” he said in his weekly television program.

“In the past, when people became ministers, it was an honor. But now they arrive in office with one leg in jail,” he said.

Last week, foreign minister Noppadon Pattama resigned after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had violated the charter by signing a controversial deal with Cambodia over a disputed Hindu temple on the border.

The court also forced out the health minister for concealing his wife’s assets when he took office.

A junior minister earlier resigned in May after he was charged with offending Thailand’s revered king in a speech about the 2006 coup against then-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Three more ministers, including Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, may have to suspend their duties if the Supreme Court decides later this month to take up a case accusing them of corruption in a lottery scandal.

The legal battles have opened the door to even more investigations that could lead to Samak’s impeachment and the dissolution of the ruling People Power Party (PPP).

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