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Prime Minister Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda declined an invitation to form his sixth government, opening the way for Maj. Gen. Chatichai Choonhavan to become the country's first elected head of government in 12 years.

"I have been trying for the past eight years to prop up democracy in the country," Prem was quoted as telling the leaders of five political parties who offered him the premiership late Wednesday. "Now it's your turn."The five party leaders then extended the invitation to Chatichai, leader of the Chart Thai Party - or Thai Nation Party - which won the highest number of seats in Sunday's general election.