08.17.07, 6:16 AM ET
BANGKOK (Thomson Financial) – Ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday denounced corruption charges against him as ‘politically motivated’ allegations, designed to weaken his influence on a referendum this weekend.
Thais vote on Sunday on a new army-backed constitution that the junta says will clear the way for a return to democracy, but which opponents insist will entrench the role of the military in government.
Thaksin’s allies have campaigned against the charter and the fallen premier accused the military of pursuing him to weaken his political influence.
‘Over the next few days the military junta in Thailand will increase its attacks on my reputation,’ the billionaire said in a statement from Britain, where he is living in exile.
‘This is because they fear my influence on the outcome of the referendum on a new military constitution on Sunday,’ he said in the statement, released by his lawyer in Bangkok.
‘I have committed no crimes, nor any acts of corruption, and all the charges against me and my family are politically motivated,’ he added.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for Thaksin and his wife Pojaman after they ignored a summons to appear before the judges to hear corruption charges.
Thailand’s army-installed government says it will request their extradition from Britain if they fail to appear at a court hearing on September 25.
Thaksin reiterated Friday that he will not return to Thailand until democracy is restored, despite the latest court order.
‘I will defend myself against all charges when I am confident I can do so in a fair and just process. This is not possible while the military control what should be a proud democracy,’ he said in the statement.
Thaksin has lived in exile since the military toppled his government last September.
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