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Yingluck charms Thailand

In this May 30, 2016 photo, students of Bueng Kan Wittaya school take photos with Thailand's former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bueng Kan Province, Thailand. As the former prime minister made her way through a line of fans, some cried, others screamed and a few embraced her. This was not a political campaign stop. If it had been, the generals who ousted Yingluck two years ago never would have let it happen. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

PHRAE, Thailand – On a ‘‘fighting with smiles’’ tour by ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra, selfies and symbols are the weapons of choice, showing adoring fans her family are still in Thailand’s treacherous political game – despite being hemmed in by the junta.

The Thai military has banned all political campaigning and Yingluck’s trips to the north and northeast are ostensibly billed as cultural tours to celebrate reaching five million Facebook fans.

But in a very Thai take on politics, each act on her tour is suffused with meaning, from ringing the ‘‘Bell of Freedom’’ at a Buddhist temple to speaking in the local dialect. And the party faithful are lapping it up.

In Phrae, a lush, mountainous province in the Thai north a few hundred kilometers from the Shinawatra clan’s hometown, Yingluck was mobbed by legions of selfie-taking fans at every stop on Saturday – many wearing the “Red Shirts” synonomous with her family. (AFP)

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