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Thai PM faces impeachment move
Opposition MPs launch motion following crackdown on anti-government protests.
Last Modified: 25 May 2010 05:18 GMT
Bangkok remains under a state of emergency in the wake of last week's military crackdown [Reuters]

Opposition politicians in Thailand have begun moves to impeach the country's prime minister over his handling of recent violent anti-government protests in Bangkok.

The measure, backed by 159 opposition MPs, targets Abhisit Vejjajiva and calls for the censure of three ministers in his cabinet including the deputy prime minister, the transport minister and the interior minister.

The MPs have also tabled a no-confidence motion in Abhisit, although neither measure is expected to win sufficient backing to be passed by the Thai parliament.

The moves come after more than two months of anti-government protests that ended with a military assault in Bangkok last week.

Dozens of people were killed during the clashes between red shirt protesters and security forces.

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  Red shirts go underground
   
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  Battle in Bangkok
   
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  Thailand: Warring colours
  101 East: The red shirts
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  Crackdown in Thailand

Although the impeachment and no confidence motions are unlikely to be passed, the level of support behind them reflects the deep rifts in Thailand's political landscape in the wake of the protests.

Wittaya Buranasiri, the opposition whip, said the motion to impeach Abhisit was introduced by the Pheu Thai Party, which is allied to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister ousted in a 2006 coup who is widely supported by the red shirt protesters.

Members of the Pheu Thai allege Abhisit and his deputy abused their power in using force in their crackdown on the protests.

The red shirts have been calling for Abhisit to resign and call early elections, arguing his government came to power illegitimately with the help of back-room deals and military pressure.

The demonstrations came to a head when red shirt protesters moved into Bangkok's central business district, building bamboo-and-tire barricades and controlling checkpoints that crippled one of the city's most important shopping and tourism areas.

While shops and businesses have begun to reopen as life in the Thai capital returns to normal after last week's clashes, authorities have said they are considering extending a late night curfew for another week.

"The purpose of the curfew is to separate the terrorists from the public,'' said army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

He said the late hours of the curfew would not cause significant disturbances to the public.

The Thai cabinet was expected to meet on Tuesday to approve the extension.

Source:
Agencies
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