Thaksin’s calls for democracy growing louder

Jan. 25, 2007

Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Tuesday in Tokyo that he does not plan to return to politics–implying he will not seek to rally opposition if he returns home–but that the military-installed government “has to return democracy back to the people as soon as possible.”

Thaksin questioned the legitimacy of the bloodless coup in September that removed him from his post and said that its leaders had overthrown “the popular government” supported by Thais.

Since the coup, Thaksin has been in exile and has been spending time in a number of countries.

Discussing the coup he said: “I believed that a decent man would not do [such a thing] in the 21st century…[But Thai democracy] was not mature enough.” He added the military’s claim that his administration was corrupt was just an excuse to remove him from power.

An investigation has been launched in Thailand by the National Counter Corruption Commission and the Assets Examination Committee into alleged corruption during the Thaksin administration and the suspected accumulation of wealth by the Thaksin family.

Asked about such allegations, Thaksin said: “I believe in my innocence. It’s a one-sided allegation without reasons…If [the case] is brought to court–maybe by international standards–I can prove my innocence easily.”

He denied there was any possibility of him returning to politics, saying: “It’s been too much for me and my family…I will not be a politician.”

Thaksin did, however, express his desire to eventually return to Thailand as a private citizen. “I should do some charitable activities to help the unfortunate people and to promote education,” he said.

Until recently, he has remained largely silent since the coup. However, since earlier this month he has made an increasing number of appearances in the foreign media. He decided to do so following accusations that he was somehow involved in the deadly bombings in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve.

“When they finger-pointed me [as responsible for the bombings], I had to leave my political silence,” he said. “They do a lot of things to my family, my children, which…hurt.”

He also said concerns over the Thai economy led him to decide to appear more frequently in the media. “I know many international investors started to lose confidence in Thailand…It’s my duty to talk [to foreign private sectors and politicians].”

He has met several business people and politicians in Japan, he said.

Members of the Council for National Security, composed of the generals who staged the September coup are aware of Thaksin’s recent moves and there is a great deal of interest as to when he will return to Thailand.

“If I go back I should be able to help unite the country. I should not be an excuse for bloodshed…[resulting from] confrontation among the Thais,” Thaksin said.

He said he has not decided when to return, but that he will take into account his and his family’s safety.

(Jan. 25, 2007)

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