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Thailand's anti-graft body summons Prime Minister Yingluck


anti-graft body
Bangkok, Feb 27: Thailand's anti-graft body today summoned embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over charges related to a populist rice-pledging scheme, as anti- government protesters demand her ouster amid deadly violence.

The charges relate to a controversial rice subsidy scheme that paid farmers above the market price and has run out of funds, adding to Yingluck's woes as farmers demand their money. Yingluck, who is currently working from her stronghold in northern Thailand, has said she will assign her legal team to acknowledge charges related to rice-pledging scheme slapped on her by National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The 46-year-old prime minister left for Chiangrai yesterday. The anti-government protesters had threatened to hound her wherever she will go in Bangkok. The NACC says Yingluck ignored warnings that the rice scheme was fostering corruption and causing financial losses. She could face a five year ban from politics if found guilty.

Meanwhile, anti-government rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban has said he is ready to sit down and talk with Yingluck but this has to be one-on-one and broadcast live.

His offer was rejected by Yingluck, who said she wants to ask Suthep whether he is ready to hold talks under the framework of the Constitution or not. With the political impasse continuing with no solution in sight, Thailand's caretaker foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has urged the United Nations to mediate in the escalating political conflict in the country.

Attacks over the weekend have left five persons, including four children, dead and injured several others. Surapong, who is also deputy prime minister and chief adviser to the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order, said he telephoned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking his advice on how to resolve Thailand's political impasse. Since November 2013, 70 attacks against the protesters have resulted in 20 deaths and 720 injuries.

Protesters have been holding rallies across Bangkok calling for Yingluck's government to quit. The protesters accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother, former premier Thaksin who was ousted in a coup in 2006. He lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to escape a jail term on a corruption conviction. The recent violence is the worst political bloodshed in Thailand since 2010 when protests by pro-Thaksin "Red Shirts" left more than 90 dead and nearly 1,900 injured in clashes and a military crackdown.


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