Thailand PM survives no-confidence vote

Abhisit Vejjajiva defeats censure motion bought by opposition on grounds of corruption and abuse of power.

    The latest no-confidence vote is the third that Abhisit has defeated since 2009 [Reuters]

    Thailand's prime minister has survived a no-confidence vote brought against him by opposition politicians, ensuring his government remains in office in the run-up to what is likely to be a close election in July.

    Abhisit Vejjajiva was backed by 249 politicians, or 52 per cent of the eligible house voters, in a censure motion after four days of debate marked by allegations of corruption, mismanagement and conflicts of interest levelled at him and nine of his ministers.

    "The parliament has voted to give confidence to the Prime Minister and another nine ministers to stay in power," Chai Chidchob, the house speaker, said on Saturday.

    It is the third censure motion that Abhisit has defeated since 2009.

    The opposition, however, was seen as having little chance of winning the no-confidence vote because they lack a majority in the lower house.

    During the debate, they accused Abhisit of abusing his power during deadly military operations in April and May 2010 aimed at clearing anti-government "red shirt" protesters from the streets of the capital, Bangkok.

    They also blamed him for allowing a huge fire at Bangkok's CentralWorld mall - one of dozens of buildings set ablaze after the army crackdown.

    The government denies this and blames protesters for the arson attacks.

    Thailand remains deeply divided after more than 90 people died in those clashes between the army and demonstrators - the country's worst political violence in decades.

    The red shirts plan to hold on Saturday the latest in a string of street rallies in Bangkok, which are expected to draw tens of thousands of people.

    The mainly rural, working-class red shirts are broadly loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister in a military coup in 2006 and lives overseas to avoid a jail sentence for corruption imposed in absentia.

    They view the government as undemocratic because it came to power in 2008 in a parliamentary vote after a court ruling threw out the previous administration - an accusation Abhisit's administration strongly denies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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