Thailand Swears In New Prime Minister

Retired army commander Gen. Surayud Chulanont was sworn in Sunday as interim prime minister following the announcement of a temporary constitution that reserved considerable powers for Thailand's military coup makers.

The announcement, following his endorsement by the country's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was widely expected. The cabinet is expected to be announced later this week.

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Surayud, who spent 40 years in the military, was seen as someone who could help stabilize the political situation following the Sept. 19 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"Gen. Surayud has been trusted to become a new prime minister," said coup leader Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, reading from a royal command. "The king has appointed him to administer the country from now on."

Surayud, 63, accompanied by his wife, stood at attention in a white military uniform alongside six other coup leaders at Government House in the Thai Koo Fa building. A wall-sized portrait of the king was hung on the wall.

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During his military career, Surayud earned praise for his deft handling of the sensitive border with embattled Cambodia during the 1980s. Upon his appointment as army commander, he engineered a major restructuring of the military, increasing professionalism and keeping officers out of politics.