Yingluck shows her political mettle

Yingluck shows her political mettle

BANGKOK - It was a tense night in Bangkok.

Thousands of protesters had battled tear gas and water cannon and the government urged people to stay indoors for safety.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban then made a dramatic declaration later that Sunday night that he had just met Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in military-brokered talks and issued her an ultimatum: Make way for a "people's council" to helm the country in two days.

All went quiet on the government front. The next day, however, Ms Yingluck said on television: "The protesters' demands are impossible to meet under the framework of the Constitution."

She did not quit or dissolve the House, but left the door open for further talks.

As observers saw it, Ms Yingluck, despite being a political rookie under ominous circumstances, successfully stood her ground against a wily veteran.

Then again, she was no ordinary rookie. The 46-year-old former property executive is the youngest sister of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a media tycoon who was swept to power in 2001 by the vote of the rural masses but deposed in a military coup in 2006.

Her sister Yaowapa Wongsawat is a powerful politician in their native Chiang Mai province up north. Her brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat was briefly prime minister in 2008.

Before joining politics, Ms Yingluck was a business executive who worked her way up a range of Shinawatra family businesses, including telecommunications firm Advanced Info Service - which was later sold to Temasek Holdings - as well as real estate deve-loper SC Asset Corp.

The youngest in a family of nine children has a degree in political science and public administration from Chiang Mai University, as well as a master's in public administration from Kentucky State University in the United States.

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