A Thai court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down on Wednesday after finding her guilty of abusing her power, prolonging a political crisis that has led to violent protests and brought the economy close to recession.
The decision is bound to anger supporters of Yingluck, but the court did allow ministers not implicated in the case against her to stay in office, a decision that could take some of the sting out of any backlash on the streets.
After the ruling, the cabinet said Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, who is also a deputy prime minister, would replace Yingluck, and the caretaker government would press ahead with plans for a July 20 election. “The caretaker government’s responsibility now is to organise an election as soon as possible,” said Niwatthamrong.
Yingluck, who faced six months of sometimes deadly protests in the capital, Bangkok, aimed at toppling her government and ending the considerable political influence of her brother, thanked the Thai people in a televised news conference.
“Throughout my time as prime minister I have given my all to my work for the benefit of my countrymen … I have never committed any unlawful acts as I have been accused of doing,” Yingluck said, smiling and outwardly upbeat.
Despite her removal from power, there is no obvious end in sight to the turmoil in Thailand, with protesters opposed to Yingluck and her government still pushing for political reforms before new elections.
The judge said Yingluck had abused her position by transferring a security chief to another post in 2011 so that a relative could benefit from subsequent job moves.