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Ousted Thai PM Yingluck faces political ban in assembly vote

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-23 10:11

Ousted Thai PM Yingluck faces political ban in assembly vote

Ousted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivers her statement at the National Legislative Assembly meeting in Bangkok January 22, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

BANGKOK - Thailand's legislature will decide the political fate of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra when it rules on Friday whether she was negligent in her oversight of a costly government rice subsidy programme.

A guilty verdict could be divisive in a country still tense after a coup in May that toppled the remains of Yingluck's government and ended months of protests on the streets of Bangkok against her administration.

Yingluck remains popular among the rural poor that handed her a landslide electoral victory in 2011 and benefited from the rice scheme. If found guilty on Friday, she faces a five-year ban from politics likely to stir anti-coup sentiment among the supporters she can no longer represent.

Security has been increased around the parliament building in Bangkok where the vote will take place from around 10 am local time (0300 GMT). Thailand is under martial law and public gatherings are banned. Authorities have been quick to stifle any public protest.

The charges against Thailand's first female prime minister concern her role in scheme that paid farmers above market prices for rice and cost Thailand billions of dollars.

In the third and final hearing in the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday, Yingluck disputed the charges and said the scheme boosted the economy.

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