Thailand's parliament elects Yingluck Shinawatra as PM

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Media captionThe BBC's Rachel Harvey says Ms Yingluck has a lot of challenges ahead of her

The Thai parliament has elected Yingluck Shinawatra as the country's first female prime minister.

Ms Yingluck, sister of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, led her Pheu Thai party to a clear victory in last month's national election.

Her party and its coalition partners now command a huge majority in the lower house.

After the televised vote in parliament, King Bhumibol Adulyadej must endorse her in a ceremony expected within days.

Thaksin's influence

In the lower house, 296 of the legislature's 500 members voted for Ms Yingluck. Three members voted against and 197 abstained.

The 44-year-old faces the immediate challenge of bringing stability to the kingdom after five years of political turmoil.

Her brother - whose populist policies won him the support of much of the rural and urban poor - was thrown out of office in a 2006 military coup.

Mr Thaksin, who now lives in exile in Dubai, is seen as the de facto leader of Pheu Thai, and his influence loomed large throughout the election campaign.

The party says his role is purely advisory.

But the BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says Ms Yingluck will have to work hard to convince her critics that she can be a strong leader in her own right.

Since 2006, Thailand has been riven by internal divisions.

Last year thousands of pro-Thaksin protesters occupied parts of Bangkok for months in a demonstration that was eventually cleared by the army, with dozens of people killed.

Ms Yingluck, who has no previous political experience, has said her "first urgent issue is how to achieve reconciliation".

Although her party won a clear majority of seats in parliament, she said Pheu Thai would form a coalition with four other parties "to work together to run the country and solve people's problems".

The coalition will control about 60% of parliament.