Thursday, July 3, 2008

Samak claims plot to seize him at airport Friday

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday claimed someone had plotted to capture him the instant his plane made a landing at Bangkok airport today.

According to Mr Samak, someone possibly in the military planned to arrest him when he returned today from Brunei, which he is visiting on the return leg from his four-day visit to China.

He was speaking on the last day of his visit to China before travelling to Brunei.

Brunei is the last member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which Mr Samak is visiting to introduce himself as a new government leader.

A source close to the prime minister said Mr Samak received an intelligence report that a military officer hatched a plot to capture him at the airport and remove him from power, in a similar manner to the 1991 military coup which successfully overthrew then prime minister Gen Chatichai Choonhavan.

The plot was linked to an earlier rumour that the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in cahoots with some military officers who were involved in the Sept 19, 2006 coup, and were working to stage another overthrow to get rid of Mr Samak and his government.

Mr Samak said PAD core leader Sondhi Limthongkul was said to have high regard for ACM Chalit Pukpasuk, former caretaker of the Council for National Security.

Some reports suggested the plane carrying the prime minister and his delegation would be rerouted to land at Suvarnabhumi airport instead of the Wing 6 airstrip at air force headquarters.

But the prime minister’s schedule at Government House still says his plane will land at the airstrip. Mr Samak said an investigation is underway into the rumour and who started it.

Mr Samak earlier shrugged off reports that he was under pressure for keeping some cabinet members who have underperformed or done their job improperly. (additional reports from Thai News Agency)

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