Thai PM Prayuth wins confidence vote amid criticism on virus

BANGKOK (AP) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha won the confidence vote in parliament on Saturday and helped stabilize his government after it was heavily criticized for botching its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

BANGKOK (AP) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha won the confidence vote in parliament on Saturday and helped stabilize his government after it was heavily criticized for botching its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prayuth is still under pressure from street protests demanding his resignation. Pro-democracy activists who oppose his policies have been demanding his resignation since last year and have intensified their efforts in recent weeks.

Large, if not large, rallies were held last week as a virus-fighting measure despite restrictions on public gatherings, and another was scheduled for a later Saturday, with organizers vowing to continue until he took office.

Before the vote on the no-confidence motions against him and five members of his cabinet arrived in parliament, Prayuth had told reporters: “I am confident every day.” When asked if there will be a reshuffle soon, he said: “It is still not time. “

Prayuth prevailed in the House of Representatives by a comfortable margin, with the support of 264 lawmakers who showed little deviation from the 271 members of his ruling coalition, despite intense rumors of a conspiracy among them to compel him.

There were 208 votes in favor of the motion, 34 fewer than the 242 simple majority of the total of 482 members that the opposition needed to succeed.

In the previous four days of debate, little attention had been paid to the details of the opposition’s harsh allegations that Prayuth’s government botched the coronavirus response, condoned corruption and poorly managed the economy.

The Thai media were instead full of rumors that the secretary-general of the ruling, military-backed Palang Pracharath party, which formed the coalition government that Prayuth appointed prime minister two years ago, led efforts to oust him and pull the main opposition Pheu Thai party away the coalition.

There was no public confirmation of the rumors, which until Thursday contained an allegation that Prayuth’s side hit lawmakers to pay them large sums to ensure their support – an allegation he flatly denied. “Everyone came to greet me. Since I hardly met them, they only came to support me. I wouldn’t do that (pay money), ”he said.

Prayuth and his government have survived two more no-confidence debates since the 2019 general election. However, due to his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, particularly its failure to ensure timely and adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, he has now been viewed as at risk.

As a junta leader and prime minister with full powers in a military regime installed as army commander after a coup in 2014 and overthrowing an elected government, he faced no such challenge.

The other cabinet members targeted with motions of no confidence also survived the vote on Saturday without any problems. They were Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob from the Bhumjai Thai Party, Labor Minister Suchat Chomklin and Minister for Digital Economy Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn from Palang Pracharath, and Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on from the Democratic Party.

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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