Bangkok: Thailand`s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday faced the biggest challenge yet in her 15-month tenure with the determined opposition pressing for a no-confidence debate in Parliament, a day after major anti-government protests were staged.
Yingluck, 45, who is accused by her rivals of being a puppet for her fugitive brother Thaksin Shinawatra, told reporters she was "confident" her government could defend itself in the no-confidence debates that started.
Thailand yesterday witnessed the first major protests against Yingluck`s government, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets demanding her overthrow for being "a puppet" of her brother -- deposed premier Thaksin.
Her six-party ruling coalition, formed after Puea Thai`s win in June 2011, controls about three-fifths of the seats in the lower house.
The debate, which is due to be followed by a no-confidence vote on Wednesday, began a day after police clashed with anti-government protesters in Bangkok.
Police fired tear gas and detained more than 100 people after a group of demonstrators tried to force their way through a fence on the edge of the main protest site with the help of a truck. About 82 people were injured in the clashes.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Suan Dusit said the majority of the people (56.14 percent) did not support either side, the government or the opposition, because they were fed up with Thai politics.
The poll was conducted from Monday to Saturday among 2,310 people in Bangkok and other provinces nationwide to gauge the people`s opinion on the no-confidence debate.
On who they wanted to support most among Prime Minister Shinawatra and her three cabinet ministers who were to be grilled by opposition, the premier received the highest support (32.35 percent) from the respondents, followed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung (25.37 percent), Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat (23.1 percent) and Deputy Interior Minister Chatt Kuldiloke (19.18 percent).
The last two days of the no-confidence debate would be reserved for debating against Yingluck alone.