3 Jun 2010

Vote of confidence for Thai PM

5:43 pm on 3 June 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand has survived a no-confidence vote tabled in parliament in the wake of recent deadly street protests.

Members of the lower house voted 246-186 on Wednesday to reject the no-confidence motion against Mr Abhisit, while others abstained. The government needed at least 238 votes to survive the motion.

A crackdown on the protests last month, which followed days of skirmishes, left about 80 people dead and 1800 injured.

During two days of debate broadcast live on TV, the opposition Puea Thai Party charged that the army's use of live ammunition and armoured personnel carriers was excessive and resulted in civilian casualties.

The government has insisted it turned to the military as a last resort after all attempts to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the preceding weeks failed.

Mr Abhisit has blamed "terrorists" within the 'red-shirts' for the deaths.

On Monday, a senior UN official called for an independent inquiry into the unrest.

The protests began on 14 March and Mr Abhisit eventually offered to hold elections in November, but withdrew the offer when the red-shirts did not end their occupation of downtown Bangkok.

He is yet to set another date for polls, saying some stability has to be restored before balloting can be held.

The BBC reports the red-shirts are a loose coalition of left-wing activists, democracy campaigners and rural supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.