Thai minister quits amid probe into land sale

Thailand’s interior minister and leader of the ruling party resigned from the cabinet on Friday amid a spiralling graft probe scandal and fears over the political fallout for the government.

Yongyuth Wichaidit said he would quit his ministerial position, although he will retain his role as a member of parliament and as head of the Puea Thai party, allied with ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. “I have decided to resign from both deputy prime minister and interior minister positions,” he told reporters in Bangkok, adding that the move would take effect from Monday.

Yongyuth, 70, was found guilty by the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for unlawfully endorsing the sale of monastic land to a golf course developer when he was deputy permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry in 2000. He denies wrongdoing and is fighting the case. But the Puea Thai party said he had decided to fall on his sword to take the heat off the government, as bitter divisions continue to cause uncertainty in Thailand’s political landscape. A party spokesman said he wanted the government to be able to continue working without any trouble.

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