Coronavirus: UK should donate vaccines to poorer nations now, says new WTO chief; French cities facing tougher lockdowns

Nine other ministers also survived the vote. It marked the second no-confidence test that prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government has faced since taking office in July 2019, following a contested election after Prayuth seized power in a 2014 coup as the army chief. In February last year, he and five Cabinet ministers easily defeated a no-confidence vote in the lower house.

But a more serious allegation was that Prayuth has deepened divisions in society by using the monarchy as a shield against criticism of his government.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a popular politician who was forced out of parliament last year, was charged last month with lese majeste for alleging that the government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines was late and inadequate, and that there was possible favouritism in the awarding of the main contract.

The criticism relates to the monarchy because most of the vaccines that Thailand has ordered are to be produced by Siam Bioscience, a private Thai company owned by the king.

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