Yingluck under pressure from protesters as Thai rice farmers demand payment

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In Thailand, around 10,000 protesters cemented entrances to Government House in Bangkok to prevent prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from working there.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has vowed to keep Yingluck under pressure until they topple her government and usher in political reforms before an election.

The demonstrators say Yingluck’s brother, exiled former leader Taksin Shinawatra, is running the country by proxy.

A separate protest by rice farmers at her temporary office demanding payment for rice could turn out to be more damaging for Yingluck.

Rural voters swept her to power in 2011, when her Puea Thai Party pledged to pay rice farmers way above market prices for their harvest. But the programme has run into funding problems and some farmers have not been paid for months.

“The prime minister is well off but we are not. How are we going to feed our children? I want her to think about us,” said one protesting farmer. “Farmers are tough people, they wouldn’t normally speak out but they are at the end of their tether.”

Farmers’ representatives later met ministers, but when Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong came out to speak to the crowd he was pelted with plastic bottles.

The government hopes to sell about one million tonnes of rice through tenders this month to replenish its rice fund and is also seeking bank loans to help it pay the farmers.

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