Friday, November 27, 2009

Thaksin `will stop protests if govt spares him from jail'

Bangkok Post

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants the government to spare him legal punishment. In return, he will put an end to protests against it, says a Puea Thai Party source.

The move was part of a strategy laid out by Thaksin, as conveyed by politicians who visited the ousted prime minister in Dubai recently.

The politicians included opposition Puea Thai Party members and those suspended from politics by a court decision dismantling the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) and People Power parties.

The source said Thaksin wanted the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship movement to keep up its campaign against the government.

At the same time, he wanted to open talks with the government about his fate.

Any negotiations would proceed on the condition that Thaksin would be spared the two-year jail term which he fled overseas last year to avoid.

Last year, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions sentenced Thaksin to two years in jail for a conflict of interest when he was prime minister, and Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, then his wife, won a bidding contest to acquire land in the Ratchadapisek area. The auction was in 2003.

Thaksin's 76-billion-baht assets seizure case, for which a court verdict is expected in January, would also be up for negotiation.

If they reached a deal, rallies against the government would cease and the Democrat-led coalition government could remain in power.

The Puea Thai source said if Thaksin was spared legal punishment, he would not mind if the government stayed on to finish its term.

One of the politicians who met Thaksin in Dubai was Puea Thai MP for Samut Prakan Pracha Prasopdee.

He said yesterday that Thaksin predicted the government would fall next year, as political and economic problems caught up with it. The coalition, he said, would probably disintegrate amid internal conflicts.

However, Thaksin did not rule out the possibility of the coalition government completing its term.

In that case, Thaksin told the Puea Thai MPs to prepare a censure debate against the government, according to Mr Pracha.

Meanwhile, Democrat MPs Wirat Kalayasiri and Boonyod Sukthinthai yesterday accused Puea Thai MP Apiwant Wiriyachai, a deputy house speaker, of inappropriate conduct, and called on him to step down.

According to the Democrats, Col Apiwant joined a red shirt protest in Samut Prakan province last week and used verbal profanity to attack privy councillor Surayud Chulanont and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He also referred ``inappropriately'' to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, whom the UDD accuses of being behind the Sept 19, 2006 coup.

The Democrats also criticised Col Apiwant for skipping a parliamentary session on Nov 13 to travel to Cambodia to meet Thaksin.

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