Thai prime minister survives no-confidence vote

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra comfortably survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday following a heated debate on the government's rice-pledging scheme and flood management budget.

Wednesday's vote came after a three-day censure debate, and four days after a demonstration by thousands of protesters who called for the overthrow of the government, citing corruption as one of the reasons.

The opposition was outnumbered in parliament, however, and lawmakers voted 308 to 159 to keep Yingluck in power. One deputy premier and other two ministers also comfortably survived no-confidence votes.

Yingluck won a landslide election victory last year, and has led Thailand through one of its longest peaceful periods in recent years. The country has suffered bouts of political instability since a 2006 coup ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

The opposition Democrat Party blamed Yingluck for putting Thailand at risk of losing its spot as the world's top rice exporter and for alleged widespread corruption in the rice-pledging program, in which the government paid farmers at prices higher than market prices.

Yingluck told parliamentarians the program gave direct benefits to Thai farmers and helped increase the prices of Thai rice. She added that the government will introduce an information technology system and install closed-circuit cameras to prevent graft.

Among other issues brought up against Yingluck and other ministers were alleged irregularities in the government's flood management budget, canal-dredging projects and the procurement of combat systems on two navy frigates.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung was also accused of serving the interests of Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile following a corruption conviction.

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