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Thailand : PM hospitalised with food poisoning

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Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, grappling with a devastating flood crisis, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday with food poisoning, her government said. 

“She is suffering from diarrhoea due to food poisoning,” government spokeswoman Titima Chaisang told reporters, adding that Yingluck had asked her deputy to chair a cabinet meeting in her place.

The 44-year-old leader, the younger sister of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was a political novice before taking office in August and has struggled to get a grip on Thailand’s worst floods in half a century.

The government has faced criticism for its slow response and confusing public advice about the disaster, which has left more than 600 people dead.

At times the mother-of-one has showed signs of strain, appearing teary-eyed at news conferences and describing the crisis as overwhelming, while her political enemies have sought to use the occasion to undermine her popularity.

Yingluck was hospitalised in the early hours of Tuesday morning with diarrhoea, fatigue, abdominal pain and nausea, the deputy director of the Praram 9 Hospital, Athit Jiranaisilavong, told a news conference.

“The doctor administered oral dehydration salts and agreed that she should rest in hospital for a day or two,” he said.

“We will assess her condition again this evening. So far there are no complications.”

Thailand’s floods have taken a heavy toll on the economy and the vital tourism sector, still recovering from deadly political unrest last year. Yingluck has said that central Bangkok is now safe from the floodwaters, which caused widespread damage in areas north of the capital and seeped into the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis.

Her 62-year-old brother Thaksin remains a deeply divisive figure in Thailand. The former telecoms tycoon was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to avoid a two-year jail sentence for corruption.

Yingluck has faced criticism over reports — denied by her government — of plans for a royal pardon that could allow Thaksin to return without serving time.

Bangkok, Nov 29, 2011 (AFP)