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Thai PM given more time in crucial legal case

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– Time running out for Yingluck? –

Yingluck is also accused of negligence linked to a loss-making rice subsidy scheme that critics say engendered widespread corruption.

Either case could lead to her removal from office and pro-government supporters have upped their rhetoric in anticipation of a knock-out legal blow over coming weeks.

Prominent Red Shirt activist Thida Thavornseth said she expects the Constitutional Court to rule against Yingluck in early May.

“Until then we will travel to our provinces to get our people ready to rally… we will protect this government,” she said in a televised speech.

Mass protests by the Red Shirts in 2010 triggered a military crackdown under the then-Democrat Party government that left scores dead.

The backdrop to the crisis is Thaksin’s removal from power in a 2006 coup which plunged the kingdom into political turmoil from which it has yet to emerge.

Thailand has since been cleaved by rivalries broadly pitting the Bangkok-based middle-class and establishment, as well as the staunchly royalist south, against the north and northeastern rural heartlands of the Shinawatra clan.

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Thaksin-allied parties have won every valid election for more than a decade.

Anti-government protesters want Yingluck to resign to make way for an unelected “people’s council” to oversee reforms aimed at diluting the Shinawatras’ influence on politics.

The political paralysis has also darkened the outlook for the kingdom’s economy, with tourism among the sectors hit hardest.

In response the central bank on Wednesday said it would hold its benchmark interest rate at 2.0 percent – a three-year low.

Economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter of 2013, to just 0.6 percent year-on-year, from 2.7 percent in the previous quarter.

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