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Thai PM survives another no-confidence vote

February 20, 2021

Around 1,000 protesters staged a rally in Bangkok after the parliament spared Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine ministers.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha delivers a speech at the parliament.
Prayuth Chan-ocha took office in 2019 after he overthrew an elected prime minister in 2014Image: Sakchai Lalit/AP Photo/picture-alliance

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Saturday as protesters called for demonstrations against his government.  

Prayuth faced accusations of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic and human rights violations in his second no-confidence vote since he took office in 2019. 

After four days of debates, Prayuth and nine ministers survived with 272 votes, while 206 lawmakers voted against him and three abstained. 

Thailand's parliament is comprised of 487 legislators, with 277 ruling coalition and 210 opposition members.

Protests expected

Thai authorities were expecting massive protests on Saturday afternoon, aspro-democracy demonstrators returned to the streets. Local media reported tightened security outside the parliament after protesters clashed with police last week.

Over 1,000 protesters eventually gathered at the gates of the parliament, with protest leaders calling for a peaceful demonstration. 

"We want a peaceful protest," protest leader and pro-democracy activist Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul told the media after meeting with police, adding "there is no reason for police to break up this demonstration." 

Journalist May Wong said on Twitter that police expected to deploy some 4,000 police officers during the protests.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the parliament on Friday evening to hold a mock censure motion against the prime minister and his cabinet.

Prayuth 'used the monarchy'

Opposition politicians and protesters have accused the prime minister of using the monarchy as a shield from criticism against his cabinet, referring to a law that prohibits criticism of the king

"The biggest fault of Prayuth is that he does not understand the principles of the constitutional monarchy," said Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party.

"He used the monarchy to protect himself whenever he was criticized or opposed. This is an evil action, making him no longer qualified to be prime minister," he said.

'Lese majeste' halts COVID-19 criticism 

Article 112 in Thailand's criminal code, known as the lese majeste law, allows authorities to prosecute opposition members if they criticize the monarchy.

In January, authorities charged leading opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit after 

he criticized the government for its slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout and alleged favoritism in signing deals.

Criticizing vaccine rollout in Thailand relates to the monarchy. Most of the shots that Thailand ordered were produced by a private company owned by the king, Siam Bioscience.

The pro-democracy movement has long protested the lese majeste law and continues to call for its reform. 

fb,wd/mm (AFP, AP, Reuters)