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    Southeast Asia
     May 8, '14

Thailand braces for more protests
By Staff Reporter

Thailand is preparing for more mass demonstrations over the next few days after the country's Constitutional Court removed Prime Miinister Yingluck Shinawatra from office, along with nine members of her cabinet, for transferring the secretary-general of the National Security Council in 2011 in a process that according to the court "violated the constitution" and "indicates an abuse of power".

Yingluck came to power through a general election in August 2011. Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan will

become acting leader of the caretaker government that is running the country in advance of elections scheduled to be held on July 20.

The government's mainly rural supporters, called the Red Shirts, who have long campaigned for the return of Yingluck's brother, the self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have said they will rally in Bangkok on May 10. Their rivals, the yellow-shirted anti-government group now known as the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), brought forward to Friday a protest originally planned for next week. At least 25 people have died in political violence since November.

The court ruling disappointed the PDRC in that it left Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party in power rather than throwing out the entire cabinet to clear the way for an interim government that could institute wide-ranging electoral reforms before any election. The PDRC is seeking to remove the strong presence of the wealthy Shinawatra family from Thai politics.

Mass demonstrations and clashes between the red and yellow shirts have been a feature of Thai politics since the removal of Thaksin in a 2006 coup.

Yingluck, 46, may face a further court setback as early as today (May 8), when the National Anti-Corruption Commission was due to consider a separate case of negligence against her over a rice subsidy scheme that incurred billions of dollars in losses. Its ruling could see her banned from politics, ending hopes she may have of staging an electoral comeback.

Markets reacted negatively to the Constitutional Court's decision, with the SET Index dropping almost 1.5% by early afternoon after declining more than 1% on Wednesday and the baht easing to 32.45 against the US dollar from 32.35 on May 6.

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