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Politics

Thai PM survives confidence vote as protests continue

Yingluck Shinawatra has survived a no-confidence vote lodged by Thailand's opposition comparatively comfortably. Politicians voted in Bangkok in the midst of street protests against the Thai government.

Thai PM survives no-confidence vote

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra received 297 votes of support in Thursday's no-confidence vote, while 134 members of parliament voted against the government.

Yingluck's embattled government was expected to survive the vote, considering that her Pheu Thai party holds around 60 percent of the seats in parliament.

Her interior minister, Charupong Reungsuwan, also survived the no-confidence motion by an almost identical margin.

The leader of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, had led the drive for a no-confidence vote, accusing Yingluck of allowing corruption to double under her administration since winning a July 2011 election. A rice subsidy scheme has come under particular criticism from the opposition, which claims the government guarantees unfairly high fixed prices to farmers in order to please its rural base of supporters.

The opposition also allege that Yingluck is a puppet of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying he is pulling the strings from his self-imposed exile in Dubai. Thaksin faces a two-year jail term in Thailand on an abuse of power conviction from his time in office.

Protesters stay the night

The politicians voted with around 1,000 protesters still outside the grounds of the government complex in northern Bangkok. Roughly one in 10 people who on Wednesday evening marched on the government ministry buildings in protest had camped outside the complex overnight.

The public protests in the capital gathered real pace on Sunday, when an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets. The demonstrations have remained largely peaceful on both sides. As of Thursday, there were no reports even of tear gas usage by Thai police.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement from New York calling for calm amid continued tension in the country.

"The secretary-general calls on all sides to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the rule of law and human rights," Ban said.

msh/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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