Thailand 's lower house of parliament on November 1 passed a controversial political amnesty bill which prompted anti-government rallies.

Lawmakers voted 310-0 to pass the legislation, with four abstentions, according to news reports. However, the legislation must be approved by the Senate before it becomes law.

The opposition Democrat Party - which opposes the amnesty - refused to take part in the vote. Opponents fear that the bill will "whitewash" past abuses and would allow ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return.

Thousands of people joined a rally against the planned amnesty in Bangkok on October 31 evening, with some holding the slogan "Stop the amnesty for corrupt people".

Earlier, the ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had ordered all its lawmakers to support the amnesty bill, which would cover crimes related to political unrest since 2004.

Thaksin, whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra is now prime minister, was convicted of corruption and was sentenced two years imprisonment in his absence.-VNA