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A 66-year-old experienced diplomat, Maris Sangiampongsa, has been endorsed as the new Foreign Minister following the unexpected resignation of the former Foreign Minister, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara. 

Parnpree announced his resignation on Sunday, shortly after a cabinet reshuffle list was announced, in which he lost his position as a Deputy Prime Minister, which he previously held concurrently with the Foreign Minister position. He stated that the work he would undertake would be not as smooth and quick without the Deputy Prime Minister position, so he decided to step down to allow a suitable person to take over the position. 

The resignation of Parnpree, who is a member of the same Pheu Thai party as the Prime Minister, appears to have taken the PM and other Pheu Thai members by complete surprise. Questions have been asked how much the sudden change will derail Thai foreign policy, especially Parnpree’s recent initiatives regarding the conflict in Myanmar.

The official announcement of a new minister came after several news outlets reported on Monday (29 April) that Srettha had appointed a new Foreign Minister and forwarded the appointment to the King for royal endorsement, citing reliable sources from the Government House. 

On the same day, Srettha revealed that he had selected as new Foreign Minister someone who has long moved in diplomatic and political circles and worked behind the scenes for the Pheu Thai Party. On the following day, the Royal Gazette officially announced that Maris had been endorsed by the King as the country’s new Foreign Minister.

Maris is a retired diplomat, who served as ambassador to Australia, Fiji, Nepal, and Canada, his last diplomatic position before retirement. During Parnpree’s tenure, Maris served as advisor for the Foreign Minister. The new Foreign Minister reportedly has enjoyed close ties with the Shinawatra family ever since former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was Foreign Minister during the Chuan Leekpai government in 1994. Under the later Thaksin administration, Maris was transferred from the Ministry to Government House to oversee foreign affairs. 

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