By Nopporn Wong-Anan
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose British visa was revoked last week, said on Monday he would leave Beijing for an undisclosed location and vowed to fight back against his political enemies.
“I will keep travelling. I’m leaving Beijing at the moment,” Thaksin told Reuters by telephone from the Chinese capital.
He refused to say where he was going next but denied the destination was Manila, as rumoured.
He also denied Thai media reports he was building a 60 million yuan (5.6 million pound) mansion at a golf resort near Beijing.
Thaksin, who had been living in London after he and his wife, Potjaman, skipped bail in August to avoid corruption charges, said he scrapped his British asylum application to be free to carry on his political activities.
“I dropped the asylum bid because I don’t think it is necessary. I don’t like the term asylum. I want freedom because I am a champion of democracy. I don’t like anything that restricts freedom,” Thaksin said.
He was sentenced to two years in jail last month for breaking a conflict of interest law during his five years in office before he was ousted in a bloodless 2006 coup.
In Britain he generated headlines with the purchase of the Manchester City soccer club, which he recently sold to a group of investors from Abu Dhabi.
The billionaire telecoms tycoon said he would address supporters at future rallies in northeast Thailand, a region that helped give him two landslide election victories.
“I will phone in and talk to the people who love and have faith in me. I will make a longer speech and start naming names because they have pushed me into a corner,” he said.
Earlier this month, Thaksin called into a rally in Bangkok and urged his supporters to bring him home, a move that angered his opponents.
The campaign against Thaksin is largely driven by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) — an unelected group led by royalists, academics and businessmen — while he continues to enjoy support in the countryside.
The PAD has occupied the official compound of the prime minister’s offices since August, demanding the current government stacked with Thaksin loyalists step aside.
The crisis has meandered through a coup to elections and back to protests and shows no signs of resolution, to the dismay of investors worried about the lack of a functioning government with a global recession looming.
(Editing by Alan Raybould)
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