Yingluck Shinawatra No Longer Thailand’s PM, But Crisis Continues

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
May 8, 2014 2:13 PM EST

Yingluck Shinawatra No Longer Thailand’s PM, But Crisis Continues

Yingluck Shinawatra is no longer Thailand's Prime Minister after a court found her guilty of abusing power that led to a prolonged political crisis that has spurred a number of violent protests.


Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, Thailand's Commerce Minister, also a deputy prime minister, has been named replacement for Ms Yingluck. The caretaker government's primary task is to push ahead plans for a July 20 election.


"The court decision is next-to-worst-case for moving forward," Kevin Hewison, director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Perth, told Bloomberg. "The political arm-wrestle may well continue unless the Electoral Commission can quickly move to an election where all parties participate."


The Thai court found Ms Yingluck guilty of abuse of power in related to the 2011 transfer of a top security official. "The judges unanimously rule that Ms Yingluck abused her prime minister status and interfered in transferring (Thawil Pliensri) for her own benefit," the president of the nine-member court, Charoon Intachan, said in a televised ruling.


"Therefore her prime minister status has ended... Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister."


"Yingluck's real offence, though, was being a member of the Shinawatra political clan, the target of mass protests that have disrupted life in the Thai capital for the better part of six months. That Yingluck survived in office so long is testimony to the extreme hesitancy of Thailand's monarchical network -- an alliance of interests that includes the palace, the military, and the judiciary -- to move against her. After all, she still enjoys the support of the majority of voters," Reuters reported.


The court may have removed Ms Yingluck from the top post, it however didn't touch her government. Experts believed these people will be the ones to prolong the political deadlock.


"The caretaker government's responsibility now is to organise an election as soon as possible," Mr Niwatthamrong said. He only hoped that the political situation "will not heat up after" the court ruling.


Ms Yingluck's supporters, the mostly rural-based Red Shirts, are expected to protest her ouster, effectively raising prospects of fresh clashes in Bangkok.


"We were bracing ourselves for this verdict. Everything our enemies do is to cripple the democratic process," Jatuporn Prompan, the leader of pro-Shinawatra "red shirt" activists, said. "The court chose a middle way today."





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