A highly respected politician was named Thailand's new prime minister yesterday, shortly after a leader of the governing coalition in Parliament claimed he had been confirmed for the job.

The reports by government-controlled television said Anand Panyarachun, a former prime minister and businessman, was appointed to the country's highest political post by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the constitutional monarch.

Political party leader Samboon Rahong, held partly responsible by many Thais for the Army's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests last month, earlier said he had been named prime minister. The appointment of Mr. Samboon would almost certainly have sparked renewed protests, political instablity, and a continuing decline in Thailand's once-booming economy.

But Anand could serve only an interim role, because Parliament yesterday amended the Constitution to require that prime ministers be elected legislators. Anand did not run for Parliament in March elections.

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