Thai coup leader hints at political amnesty

Thai coup leader hints at political amnesty
Posted: 02 June 2007 0045 hrs

BANGKOK – Thailand’s coup leader on Friday hinted the country’s
army-backed government could propose an amnesty to allow top leaders of
ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s party to return to public office.

Comments by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who overthrew Thaksin in
September 2006, came two days after a court banned Thaksin and 110
party leaders from politics for five years and disbanded his Thai Rak
Thai (TRT) party.

Asked by an interviewer about granting an amnesty to 111 TRT
executives, Sonthi told government-owned television Channel 11 that he
“did not object to the idea.”

“I want to see Thai people united and reconcile. I have discussed
this amnesty issue” with army-installed Prime Minister Surayud
Chulanont, Sonthi said.

Surayud had yet to respond, he said.

While suggesting Thaksin’s possible return to politics, Sonthi stressed
that the deposed former premier first had to clear a corruption case.

Last month the Assets Examination Committee, a powerful
anti-corruption body set up by the ruling military, recommended for the
first time that Thaksin and his wife Pojaman should face charges over a
controversial land purchase.

The attorney general will decide within weeks whether to bring the case to court.

The military has justified last year’s bloodless coup by saying
Thaksin was corrupt and that it would probe alleged graft during his
five years in office.

Thaksin has remained self-exile since the army toppled his twice-elected government.

From London, where he currently lives, he sent a hand-written
letter saying he apologised to supporters after his party was dissolved
and he and other TRT leaders were banned from politics over election
law violations.

– AFP /ls

political parties following last September’s bloodless military coup,
which overthrew the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra,
AFP said. Current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told reporters he
hoped he could announce the lifting of the ban…



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