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Obituaries | PASSINGS

Sanya Thammasak, 94; Legal Scholar, Former Thailand Prime Minister

January 09, 2002

Sanya Thammasak, 94, a legal scholar who served briefly as Thailand's prime minister in the 1970s after bloody protests toppled a military regime, died Sunday in a Bankok hospital of complications from internal bleeding.

After student-led demonstrations overthrew military rulers in October 1973, King Bhumibol Adulyadej named Sanya, former chief justice of the Thailand Supreme Court, interim prime minister to lead a transition to democracy. During his 15 months in office, Sanya accelerated efforts to normalize ties with China and other communist nations, sought to reduce U.S. military presence in Thailand as the Vietnam War ended and improved relations with Hanoi.

In October 1976, the military assumed control in another bloody coup, indicating the military still had a firm grip on Thai politics. Civilian rule took root in Thailand in 1992.

Sanya was president of the Privy Council for more than 20 years and president of the World Buddhism Organization.

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