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Thailand PM Nominates Maris Sangiampongsa as New Foreign Minister

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Thailand PM Nominates Maris Sangiampongsa as New Foreign Minister

(CTN News) – A veteran career diplomat with close ties to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been named to succeed Thailand’s foreign minister, who resigned over the weekend after less than a year in the role.

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara resigned unexpectedly on Sunday in protest of losing his position as deputy prime minister and concurrently holding the foreign affairs portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle.

Maris Sangiampongsa Tapped for Foreign Minister Role

Maris Sangiampongsa, a former ambassador to Australia, Fiji, and Nepal, has advised Parnpree since his appointment last September and will take over as his successor. According to the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has forwarded the appointment to the King for royal approval.

 

Several media sites reported Maris’ appointment, citing persons familiar with the issue, leading to the announcement. Srettha announced yesterday that he had chosen a new foreign minister candidate with “long involvement in diplomatic circles,” and who has worked behind the scenes at the ruling Pheu Thai Party. However, he did not name the nominee.

According to the Post, Manaporn Charoensri, Deputy Transport Minister, confirmed Maris’ appointment today. Maris Maris Sangiampongsa resigned from Thanulux, a Thai corporation, effective immediately, citing “personal reasons” in a letter to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

According to Thai media reports, Maris has been close to Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of Pheu Thai, since his appointment as foreign minister in the Chuan Leekpai cabinet in 1994.

Potential Impact on Thailand Response Strategies

He has maintained tight contact with the Shinawatras, who were recently rehabilitated after 15 years of political conflict with Thailand’s conservative establishment.

Parnpree’s resignation comes just a week after he was designated chair of an interagency task team on the humanitarian and security situation in neighboring Myanmar.

It threatens to derail Thailand’s developing momentum of change in response to the Myanmar issue, which has been sparked by the escalating fighting in Kayin (Karen) State on Thailand’s border.

In recent weeks, ethnic Karen rebels and allied resistance organizations have clashed with the Myanmar military for control of the border town of Myawaddy and its adjacent areas, leading approximately 3,000 civilians to flee temporarily into Thailand in mid-April.

It’s unclear what strategy Maris will take. As ambassador to New Zealand in 2015, he hailed Myanmar’s democratic and economic liberalization. However, the military coup in February 2021 severely limited this progress.

He applauded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) approach of engaging with the military administration implementing reforms in the early 2010s.

“Thanks to the Constructive Engagement policy towards Myanmar, initiated by Thailand and supported by ASEAN where ASEAN friends stood side by side with Myanmar through the difficult times of economic sanction,” he said.

This does not necessarily imply that Maris Maris Sangiampongsa will maintain the same engagement approach in very different conditions, and the balance of likelihood implies that he will continue the more balanced policy that has begun since Srettha assumed office last year.

However, it appears that his previous expertise dealing with Myanmar will be of limited assistance amid the deteriorating economic and political situations that have prevailed since the takeover.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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