Thai PM wins no-trust vote


Thailand’s beleaguered Prime Minister survived a no-confidence vote on Wednesday called after months of anti-government protests crippled the capital and street battles left nearly 90 people dead.
Opposition legislators accused Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of brutally suppressing the protests.
Mr Abhisit, defending himself during debate in Parliament on Tuesday, promised there would be an independent investigation into whether the Army used undue force to clear demonstrators from Bangkok’s streets.
Street clashes, grenade attacks and sniper fire over a 10-week period killed 89 people and wounded some 1,800. The months of political turmoil cost the country billions of dollars.
The thousands of Red Shirt protesters had been calling for Mr Abhisit to dissolve Parliament immediately and call new elections, saying his government came to power illegitimately and represented a Bangkok elite indifferent to the plight of the rural and urban poor.
The PM has yet to set a date for elections, saying stability has to be restored before balloting can be held. During two days of acrimonious debate, the Opposition Puea Thai Party charged the Army’s use of live ammunition and armoured personnel carriers to break up the protests was excessive and resulted in civilian casualties. As the military moved in to clear the protest area on May 19, rioters set fires at the country’s biggest shopping mall, the stock exchange and more than two dozen other places.
No side could claim victory when faced with such losses, Mr Abhisit said on Tuesday.
“In the end, for reconciliation’s sake, Parliament has to investigate the matter further,” he said. His government has accused a small minority of the protesters of being responsible for the violence and labelled them “terrorists.”
“Please be assured that I will definitely not influence nor interfere with the investigation,” Mr Abhisit was quoted as saying by the state Thai News Agency.
The government needed at least 238 votes from a total number of 475 legislatorsto survive the motion. The six-party coalition consists of 275 legislators, while the Opposition has 200. Members of the Lower Hhouse of Parliament voted 246-186 to reject the motion against Mr Abhisit, while others abstained.

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