Ousted Thai prime minister, fighting impeachment, defies critics and defends rice subsidies

Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has stoutly defended her government's money-losing rice subsidy program, seeking to stave off a legislative vote that could ban her from politics for five years.

The 220-member legislature, installed by the military after a coup last May, will vote Friday on whether to impeach Yingluck. Impeachment requires a three-fifth vote of the members, almost all of whom are part of the military or political opponents of Yingluck.

Yingluck said Thursday the subsidy program benefited Thai farmers, and denied she was responsible for any corruption associated with it. She accused the anti-graft watchdog that accused her of wrongdoing of lacking the legitimacy to judge her.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission held Yingluck responsible for failing to halt the program, which cost the government about $4 billion.