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Thai government defends itself during censure debate over deadly crackdown on protests

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Thai Parliament debates crackdown on Red protest

BANGKOK — Thailand’s House of Representatives began debate Monday on a censure motion against the coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, focusing on its deadly crackdown on anti-government Red Shirt protesters earlier this month.

The opposition Puea Thai Party alleges the army used excessive force that resulted in civilian casualties when it moved in using live ammunition to end the two-month-long protest. The thousands of Red Shirts camped in the heart of the Thai capital had been calling for Abhisit to dissolve Parliament immediately and call new elections.

Because the government holds a majority of House seats, it is almost certain to win a no-confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday. But the debate is part of a broader political struggle to win public support in this increasingly divided country.

With a state of emergency still in effect from the time of the protests, the government is able to censor satellite television and the Internet, limiting its opponents’ ability to tell their side of the story. The Puea Thai Party, which holds roughly the same point of view as the Red Shirts, can now use the debate to make its case on national television, though there had been controversy on what photos and videos it would be allowed to show.


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