Thai government survives censure vote after weekend clashes

Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:03am EST
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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's government survived a no-confidence vote on Wednesday, days after clashes in Bangkok between protesters and riot police in the largest demonstration against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's 16-month-old administration.

Yingluck has enjoyed a period of stability after years of upheaval and her government's better-than-expected performance in the debate, coupled with the low turnout for Saturday's protest which quickly fizzled out, strengthen her leadership while offering a reminder of Thailand's stubborn political divisions.

Her Puea Thai Party and coalition partners dominate the lower house and comfortably survived the televised, three-day debate during which the opposition focused on a rice intervention scheme that it says is riddled with corruption.

"We incurred losses trying to help Thailand's poor farmers but the scheme is transparent," Yingluck said.

The opposition accused the government of allowing private companies with ties to it to benefit from the policy.

"The scheme allows the government to monopolize the sale of rice. Corruption is just one side-effect of a flawed scheme," said opposition leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The opposition is still threatening to lodge a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission over the rice policy but, after seeing off the protesters and defeating the censure motion, the government can brush it off, analysts said.

"Accusations of foul play will keep the government off-balance but won't hurt it," said Siripan Nogsuan, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.   Continued...