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Thailand PM Ousted by Constitutional Court

Thailand's caretaker Cabinet has appointed a new acting prime minister after the nation's Constitutional Court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several members of her cabinet to step down from office.

Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan has been appointed as acting prime minister.

The Bangkok court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that Prime Minister Yingluck in 2011 improperly reassigned her then national security chief. It said the move was unconstitutional and done for her own benefit.

Judge Jaroon Intachan announced the ruling against Ms. Yingluck, who was Thailand's first female prime minister.



"The Constitutional Court has ruled unanimously that (Ms. Yingluck) has used her status as the prime minister to intervene for her own and others' benefits to (transfer) a government official, which violated Article 268 of the constitution, and ended her rule as prime minister."



Prime ministers are usually chosen by the country's lower house of parliament, but that body was dissolved by Ms. Yingluck last year when she called for early elections in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

Ms. Yingluck, who defended herself before the court on Tuesday, conceded defeat in a Wednesday speech, saying she has done nothing wrong.

The prime minister's supporters say the charges are politically motivated. They had threatened to protest if she were removed, raising fears of violence. About two dozen people have already been killed in six months of anti-government protests.



After the protesters failed to achieve their goal of ousting Ms. Yingluck, they instead turned to the Constitutional Court, which has a history of ruling against Shinawatra-linked governments.

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.

The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Ms. Yingluck and Mr. Thaksin.

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