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Embattled Thai PM Faces Abuse of Power Charges

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is appearing before the country's Constitutional Court to face abuse of power charges that could see her removed from office.

The embattled prime minister arrived with her legal team Tuesday at the Bangkok court to defend herself against the charges, which were filed by a group of anti-government senators.

The charges relate to the 2011 replacement of her then national security chief, a move her critics said was unconstitutional and meant to benefit her Pheu Thai Party.

If found guilty, Prime Minister Yingluck could be removed from office, along with some top government officials. She also faces a ban from politics. No date has been given for a verdict.

Separately, Thailand's Anti-Corruption Commission has charged Ms. Yingluck with dereliction of duty over a government rice-buying scheme that critics say is wasteful and corrupt.

The prime minister has survived months of protests aimed at toppling her government, but the court cases now present a new challenge to her rule.

If the courts remove the prime minister from office, her supporters have threatened to take to the streets, raising fresh concerns about violence.

Dozens of anti-government protesters have been killed during clashes with police and attacks on demonstrations in the past several months.

The opposition protesters say Ms. Yingluck's government is hopelessly corrupt and controlled by her brother, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Thaksin was removed from office in a 2006 military coup. The billionaire businessman is still very influential in Thailand. He is living in exile to escape corruption charges.

Ms. Yingluck already called for early elections in February, but the opposition boycotted the vote and disrupted it in many provinces with protests.

Last week, the prime minister and the election commission agreed to hold another election on July 20, but it is unclear if the opposition will participate this time.

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