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Thailand’s foreign minister abruptly resigns after being dropped as deputy prime minister

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BANGKOK, April 29: Thailand’s foreign minister abruptly resigned in dissatisfaction over a Cabinet reshuffle that removed him as one of the country’s deputy prime ministers.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Monday confirmed the report of the resignation of Parnpree Bahiddha-Nugara, saying that he respected the decision, and that he has already started looking for a replacement.

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Srettha said it was normal that some people would be upset by the reshuffle, adding that he already sent a message to Parnpree, apologizing and thanking him for his work.

“For his work that has been in the good interest of the country, I believe that the new minister will continue these good efforts,” he said, but did not say when the next appointee would take up the post.

On Sunday, Srettha’s government, which took office less than a year ago, announced its first Cabinet shuffle. Shortly afterwards, the media circulated a document said to be a letter of resignation from Parnpree, dated Sunday, indicating his dissatisfaction that he was removed from the position of deputy prime minister and only remained foreign minister.

Ministers in Thailand are allowed to hold multiple Cabinet positions, and it is common for senior ministers to also be appointed as deputy prime ministers.

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Srettha said that the intention behind Parnpree being dropped as deputy prime minister was to allow him to concentrate on his role as foreign minister.

In an interview with the public broadcaster Thai PBS on Sunday, Parnpree said the letter was authentic but denied that he was unhappy. He said the prime minister had the authority to make this decision, but said it was “a little unusual” and argued that it would become harder for him to work as foreign minister if he did not also hold the title of deputy prime minister.

Parnpree, who was first appointed in August, engaged in several diplomatic efforts, including a visit to the Middle East to negotiate the release of Thai workers in Israel held hostage by Hamas, and the first humanitarian aid initiative to Thailand’s war-torn neighbor, Myanmar, where millions have been displaced by violence that followed the military coup in 2021.

As part of the Cabinet shuffle, Prime Minister Srettha, a former CEO of Thailand’s leading property developer, lost his seat as finance minister. He is replaced by Pichai Chunhavajira, who until recently was a chairman of energy conglomerate Bangchak and chairman of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Pichai has also been appointed as a deputy prime minister. (AP)

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