Thai PM survives no-confidence vote as protests planned

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine ministers survived a no-confidence motion in parliament on Saturday after a four-day censure debate, with protests calling for his ouster set to resume.

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

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,” 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.

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.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by William Mallard)