BANGKOK -- Thailand's prime minister was ordered to step down Wednesday along with part of her Cabinet after the Constitutional Court found her guilty in an abuse of power case, pushing the country deeper into political turmoil.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was charged with abusing her authority by transferring a senior civil servant in 2011 to another position. The court ruled that the transfer was carried out to benefit her politically powerful family and, therefore, violated the constitution — an accusation she has denied.
"Transferring government officials must be done in accordance with moral principle," the court said in its ruling, read aloud on live television for almost 90 minutes. "Transferring with a hidden agenda is not acceptable."
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"The Constitutional Court has ruled unanimously that (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, the court said in its verdict.
It was not immediately clear who would become the new acting prime minister.
The ruling also forced out nine Cabinet members who the court said were complicit in the transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri.
It also remains far from clear whether her opponents will be able to achieve other key demands, including creating a reform council overseen by a leader of their choice that will carry out various steps to rid the country of corruption and what they claim is money politics, including alleged vote-buying.