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Thai PM survives vote of no confidence amid unrest

Photo: AFP

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (pictured) breezed through a no-confidence vote on Thursday amid the country’s biggest anti-government protests since the deadly political unrest three years ago.

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Thailand's embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday easily survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote as protests continued on the streets of Bangkok.

Yingluck needed more than half, or 246 votes out of the 492 votes in the lower house, to prevail in the vote.

"Prime Minister Yingluck won the vote of confidence," House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont announced on Thursday morning, with 297 lawmakers voting in her favour and 134 against.

The vote comes amid ongoing mass street protests in Bangkok by opposition protesters seeking to topple her government.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have paralysed government ministries in Bangkok to challenge the prime minister and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since the mass rallies in 2010 that turned deadly.

Protesters accuse Yingluck, who is the country’s first female prime minister, of acting as a stooge to her brother, the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician who is adored by many of the country's rural and urban working class but loathed by many in the elite and the middle classes.

The divisive ex-leader lives in Dubai to avoid a jail term for corruption and terrorism charges that he contends are politically motivated, but few doubt Thaksin is the real power behind the ruling party.

Corruption allegations

The opposition Democrat Party brought the no-confidence motion alleging Yingluck and her government had overseen widespread corruption, including in a controversial rice subsidy scheme which is seen to have benefitted the rural heartlands of her Puea Thai party.

On Wednesday, protesters entered a major government complex in the northern outskirts of the capital and also forced staff to leave the Justice Department's besieged Department of Special Investigations.

Outside Bangkok, protesters gathered at about 25 provincial halls mainly in the opposition's southern heartlands – including on the tourist island of Phuket.

While the demonstrations have so far been largely peaceful, there are fears they could degenerate into another bout of street violence in a country that has seen several episodes of political unrest since Thaksin was toppled in a 2006 coup.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

 

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