Thai PM Prayuth survives no-confidence vote as more protests planned

BANGKOK (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and nine ministers survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Saturday (Feb 20) after a four-day censure debate, with protests calling for his ouster set to resume. 

The no-confidence motion against the premier was rejected by 272 lawmakers, while 206 voted supported it, according to a televised broadcast of the procedure in Parliament.

“The vote shows that there is confidence,” said Mr Chuan Leekpai, president of the National Assembly, announcing the result, which had been widely expected. 

“Although they all survived the votes, some of the ministers received fewer votes than others, and that points to a reshuffle in the next few months,” said Associate Professor Punchada Sirivunnabood, a Thai political analyst from Mahidol University near Bangkok.

However, the government’s win suggests the ruling coalition would last its full term, she said.

The defeat of the second no-confidence vote since the 2019 elections will allow coup leader-turned-premier Prayuth to continue his government’s efforts in limiting the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that’s threatening to derail a nascent economic recovery.

At the same time, pro-democracy groups are likely to intensify their street campaign for the premier’s resignation, a rewriting of the Constitution and monarchy reform.

During the four-day debate, opposition lawmakers have taken aim at what they say is a slow government rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and at its economic policies, vowing to continue investigating. 

“We’ve opened a wound and now will pour salt on it,” Mr Pita Limjaroenrat, head of the Move Forward Party told reporters after the vote. 

The government’s victory comes as pro-democracy protests returned after a lull brought on by a second outbreak of Covid-19. 

Protesters gathered at Parliament on Friday in anticipation of the vote with more demonstrations planned for Saturday. 

Earlier this month, protesters demanding the release of activists scuffled with police. 

Mr Prayuth, who overthrew an elected prime minister in 2014 and stayed in office after a 2019 election that his rivals said was badly flawed, had been expected to survive Saturday’s vote due to his coalition government’s majority in the lower house. 

Youth-led protests last year reached hundreds of thousands, occupying major commercial intersections in Bangkok and spreading to university campuses across the country. 

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