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FACTBOX - Somchai Wongsawat

Published: 6:12PM Monday September 15, 2008 Source: Reuters

Following are five facts about Thailand's new Prime Minister-in-waiting, Somchai Wongsawat:
  
- Somchai, 61, is best known as the brother-in-law of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup two years ago. Somchai's wife, Yaowapa Wongsawasdi, was an influential MP in her older brother's Thai Rak Thai party before it was disbanded after the putsch.
   
- A law graduate and appeals court judge, most of his top government experience was as Permanent Secretary of the Justice Ministry from 1999 to 2006 and then briefly in the same position at the Labour Ministry.
   
He served as Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet of Samak Sundaravej, who was sacked last week by the Constitutional Court.
   
- His relationship with Thaksin has led to frequent cries of nepotism, especially when several justice ministers with whom he clashed lost their jobs.
   
He countered such accusations by noting his Justice Ministry appointment came two years before Thaksin came to power.
   
- As well as his senior positions within the bureaucracy, he also sat on the board of several state-owned firms, including Airports of Thailand, national petroleum company PTT and Krung Thai Bank.
   
- Bespectacled and softly-spoken, Somchai has seldom had to endure the glare of the television cameras and appeared nervous and unsure of himself as he chaired a People Power Party (PPP) news conference last week.