Ousted Thai PM calls for unity government

ABC News

Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007 11:29pm AEDT

Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thailand should install a national unity government to rule for two years after this month’s elections and then hold another poll under a new constitution.

Mr Thaksin insisted in an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong he would never be prime minister again. He said the military junta that overthrew him in a coup last year would harm the country if it tried to rig the December 23 general election.

“Why don’t we do national reconciliation by having a national unity government,” said Mr Thaksin, who won two landslide election victories and ruled for six years.

“If you take it seriously, and if you push ahead with the plan, I think two years should be about the time to bring back our unity, bring back our full democracy and let the people decide again.”

The People Power Party (PPP), taken over by Mr Thaksin supporters after his party was dissolved for electoral fraud, is widely expected to win the most seats on December 23.

But it is also expected to fall short of a majority because of a new constitution designed to prevent the return of strong, one-party government.

Many analysts believe the military will try to prevent the PPP from heading a coalition government in the 480-seat lower house.

Mr Thaksin, who faces corruption charges, said some elements in the junta that overthrew him were trying to “save face” by aiding his opponents.

“Don’t worry about face, worry about the country. If you try to rig the elections, it will get worse,” Mr Thaksin said without elaborating.

Mr Thaksin, who is in self-imposed exile and was in Hong Kong to meet Thai golf officials, said he wanted to return to Thailand “yesterday” but would wait until he would be ensured justice and personal security.

“I’ve had assassination attempts several times, but not while I was away, while I was prime minister,” he said.

Now chairman of English Premier League soccer club Manchester City, Mr Thaksin said he wanted to devote his life to charity and set up an international foundation to help the poor in Asia through sport and education.

“I don’t want to go back as prime minister, it’s too much already,” he said. “My wife will divorce me if I go back to politics.”

Reuters

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