As Thaksin fights back, tensions soar in Thailand

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Web posted at: 6/18/2007 0:46:5

Source ::: AFP

bangkok • Thailand’s ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra has upped pressure on
the military-installed government in a bid to salvage what remains of
his political and business empire, sending tensions soaring in the
kingdom, analysts say.


The wealthy businessman-turned-politician was in New York when tanks
rumbled through Bangkok in a coup last September, and has since
remained abroad. But a string of blows against him appear to have
energised his supporters.


An anti-graft body set up by the junta — which seized power vowing to weed
out corruption — last week froze $1.5 billion of Thaksin’s assets,
while an army-appointed tribunal in May dissolved his political party.

Ukrist Pathmanand, a political science professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn
University, said Thaksin was ready to hit back at both the junta and
the anti-corruption committee.

“He is angry at the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) and he made it clear
that he would fight to regain his assets. Now it’s clear that war is
open between the military and Thaksin,” he said.

Most of the frozen money was profits from the sale by Thaksin’s family of
Shin Corp, the telecom giant founded by the former premier.

After the AEC decision, a defiant Thaksin addressed a rally of about 15,000
supporters in central Bangkok on Friday, only the second time that his
voice has been heard in his home country since his overthrow.

In a message taped in London, where he has a home, the twice-elected
leader urged the military government to press ahead with new elections
promised for the year’s end.

While Thaksin appealed for unity after 18 months of political turmoil, he
also vowed to wage a court battle to clear his name of corruption
charges.

“His message was a mixture of defiance and resignation,” said Thitinan
Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University.

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