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March 22, 2009

No-confidence motion hardly rocks Thai government
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday survived a no-confidence vote which was brought up to the parliament by the opposition after three months of power, reported Kyodo.

The opposition Puea Thai Party accused Abhisit and five other Cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, of dishonesty and abuses of power.

Abhisit got 246 votes of support out of 449 members of the House of Representatives, while Kasit, who was criticised for his role in last year's street protests that culminated in the siege of Bangkok's airports, obtained 237 votes.

Four other Cabinet ministers also survived no-confidence votes tabled by the opposition. Although the censure motions failed to bring down Abhisit's coalition government, some political analysts said it would give momentum to street protests next week called by supporters of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a renewed attempt to topple the Democrat-led government.

Leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship have planned to hold a rally in Bangkok next Thursday.

Abhisit's government came into power last December after political turbulence that toppled two governments led by Thaksin's supporters last year.

The Puea Thai Party is the latest incarnation of Thaksin's now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party with over 180 members of the parliament officially moved from the People Power Party, which was also disbanded by a court order last December after one of its executives was convicted of vote-buying.

Thaksin led Thailand from 2001 until he was ousted by a military coup in September 2006. He fled the country in August last year shortly before a court sentenced him to two years in jail for breaking a conflict of interest law while he was in power.



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