01/23/2015, 00.00
THAILAND
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Impeachment and trial for former Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra

190 MPs out of 219vote in favor of impeachment. The prosecutor orders indictment for corruption and negligence. Former Prime Minister charged with subsidies for rice production, leaving a billion dollar deficit in state coffers. For supporters the move aims to eliminate her from political life.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thai MPs this morning voted to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and ban her from active politics for five years. The attorney general also confirmed that a criminal case will be opened against her for "negligence" and "corruption". The women - sister of former Thai prime minister and billionaire Thaksin, in exile to escape a two-year sentence for corruption - is charged with involvement in the scheme of subsidies for rice production.

The Yingluck government pushed through the measure to appease their strong voter base among rural poor.  However the scheme has left a billion dollar deficit in state coffers. It provided for the purchase of rice at double the market price, but would have caused losses of more than four billion dollars and the temporary loss of the nation's top place among rice exporting countries.

Thai analysts and policy experts emphasize that this decision could fuel even more divisions and fractures in a country marked by decades of serious political crisis; the fear is of a return to street protests that, in the past, more than once resulted in violence and urban warfare, with dozens of deaths and injuries.

The Chief Attorney has not yet set the date for the trial; if found guilty the former prime minister, who was deposed by a court in May last year and replaced by a military junta, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Yingluck supporters, the "red shirts", say these decisions confirm a long standing plan to remove the Shinawatra family and party from political - and economic - life of Thailand. At least 3/5 of Parliament, composed of 220 members, were needed to vote in favor of impeachment; 190 deputies out of a total of 219 (one was absent) voted yes, most of whom are military and political opponents of the Shinawatras.

The former prime minister would not comment on the decision. Yesterday, during a hearing in Parliament, however, she rejected again any wrongdoing and questioned the correctness of the anti-corruption Commission, which supported the charges brought against Yingluck. The former leader claimed there is a "hidden agenda" the result of a "political plan" that aims to eliminate her from the institutions and the political life of the country.

Thailand's crisis began in 2005, as major clashes broke out between "red shirted" pro-Shinawatra protesters, drawn especially from the countryside and among the poor, and the "yellow shirted" supporters of the Democrat Party, which represents Thailand's upper and middle classes, as well as the capital's elite, led in parliament by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

In the spring of 2010, confrontations between protesters and police degenerated, leaving about a hundred people dead. This was followed by a political process and new elections that saw the temporary return to power of the Shinawatra family.

 

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