Thaksin ‘can return’ to Thailand

 

Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 11:41 GMT

Ex PM Thaksin Shinawatra

Mr Thaksin’s visits around Asia have alarmed Thai’s new rulers

Thailand’s ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can return home if he stays out of politics, his successor Surayud Chulanot has said. Mr Surayud said the Thai government was willing to talk to Mr Thaksin about an eventual return.

Mr Thaksin has not been back to Thailand since his government was toppled by the military while he was in New York in September.

He spoke last week of his desire to return.

He told CNN that he had no intention of returning to politics, but wanted to defend himself against corruption charges brought by the new military leadership.

‘Restricted broadcasts’

Prime Minister Surayud told a news conference that Mr Thaksin “isn’t barred from returning to the country”.

“If he wants to come back, we need to have a conversation,” he went on.

But he added that, if Mr Thaksin did return, “he should not be part of any political movement, because that would cause problems.”

Since the coup, Mr Thaksin has travelled around Asia, visiting China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

The coup leaders fear these visits are politically motivated, and have cancelled his diplomatic passport.

They were angry at Singapore earlier this month for allowing Mr Thaksin to meet the deputy prime minister.

They have tried to restrict the broadcasting of the former prime minister’s interviews in Thailand, including the CNN interview.

Monday January 22, 5:10 PM Reuters

Thaksin can come home, but no politics – Thai PM

BANGKOK, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in Thailand’s first coup in 15 years, can come home if he stays out of politics, his successor said on Monday.

“Mr. Thaksin isn’t barred from returning to the country, so if he wants to come back, we need to have a conversation,” Surayud Chulanont told a news conference.

“After he returns, he must not be involved in any political movement because such movement may bring trouble,” added Surayud, appointed by the leaders of the bloodless Sept. 19 coup, who said they stepped in to halt rampant corruption.

Thaksin told CNN in an interview, blocked from Thailand over the weekend, he did not want his return to cause unrest in the country, but was willing to come back to defend himself on corruption charges.

The Council for National Security (CNS), as the coup leaders call themselves, has set up a graft-busting committee to probe alleged wrongdoings committed by Thaksin, his cabinet ministers and their families, but they have announced no evidence yet.

Thaksin told CNN that if he were allowed to return home, he would not return to politics, but work in academia and for charity and spend time with his family.

Surayud said he had opened up communication channels for Thaksin to discuss his return.

“Do I really need to send him an invitation?”, Surayud asked.

In the CNN interview, Thaksin also urged Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej to draw a veil over the past in the interest of national unity.

“I’d like to hear what the people think about this, so I won’t express my own opinion on the issue for now,” Surayud said.

Thaksin is in Japan and Thai media speculated he was seeking a chance to meet CNS chairman Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who is visiting Beijing this week.

Report: Ousted prime minister says no plans for early return to Thailand

The Associated Press

Published: January 22, 2007

TOKYO: Thailand’s ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said Monday he would not be returning immediately to his homeland despite the recent reversal of a travel ban imposed by the military-installed government, a news report said.

The former leader also welcomed the recent detention of several suspects over a string of New Year’s bombings, denying the alleged involvement of his supporters during an interview with the regional daily, Nishinippon Shimbun.

“I have the right to go back to my motherland anytime I want to. But as a responsible person (my return may) create more conflicts among my supporters and the military. It might not be the right timing for me to go back,” Thaksin was quoted as saying in an interview conducted Monday in Tokyo, a transcript of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“I will wait and give more time for the installed government to bring unity to the country,” Thaksin said.

Thaksin’s comments came after the Thai government on Saturday said he can return home as long as he promises to stay out of politics, reversing a ban that had been in place since the September coup.

n Bangkok, military-appointed interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said conditions of Thaksin’s return still need to be discussed.

“We are not stopping him from coming back. If he wants to come back, we can talk about it, but we will have to discuss guidelines for his behavior,” Surayud said.

The government has accused Thaksin’s supporters of being behind the New Year’s bombings, which killed three people and wounded nearly 40 in Bangkok.

The regime then revoked his diplomatic passport after accusing him of making trips around the region that it dubbed politically motivated. The military council in Bangkok also advised broadcasters earlier this month to limit their coverage of Thaksin and his statements, saying national unity and stability were at stake.

In Monday’s interview, conducted by Waseda University professor Akiko Kato for the Nishinippon Shimbun, Thaksin called the bombings a criminal act and said the evidence would show who was behind the attack.

“This is a crime to civilization and to Thailand,” he said. “Finally the arrests have been made, and (the authorities) should know who is behind them.”

He also lashed out at the press censorship. “I am outraged at the interference to the mass media,” he said.

Thaksin arrived in Tokyo last week on his first visit to Japan since being toppled on Sept. 19 in a bloodless military coup. Japanese officials said they had no plans to meet him out of concerns over relations with the current Thai government.

___

Associated Press writer Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this story.

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