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August 23, 2014
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thai PM ordered to step down, found guilty of abuse of power

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra answers questions from the media during a press conference in Bangkok.

A Thai court has ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down after finding her guilty of abusing her power, prolonging a political crisis that has led to violent protests and brought the economy close to recession.

The decision is bound to anger supporters of Yingluck, but the court did allow ministers not implicated in the case against her to stay in office, a decision that could take some of the sting out of any backlash on the streets.

After the ruling, the cabinet said Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, who is also a deputy prime minister, would replace Yingluck, and the caretaker government would press ahead with plans for a July 20 election.

Thailand's protracted political crisis broadly pits Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment against mainly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and Thaksin, who lives in exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for abuse of power.

Yingluck, who faced six months of sometimes deadly protests in the capital, Bangkok, aimed at toppling her government and ending the considerable political influence of her brother, thanked the Thai people in a televised news conference.

"Throughout my time as prime minister I have given my all to my work for the benefit of my countrymen ... I have never committed any unlawful acts as I have been accused of doing," Yingluck said, smiling and outwardly upbeat.

"From now on, no matter what situation I am in, I will walk on the path of democracy. I am sad that I will not be able to serve you after this."

Despite her removal from power, there is no obvious end in sight to the turmoil in Thailand, with protesters opposed to Yingluck and her government still pushing for political reforms before new elections.

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