Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thaksin now in a South Pacific country : Thai FM

Fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra is believed to be staying in a South Pacific country after visiting Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Chavanont Intarakomalyasut, the foreign minister's secretary, said yesterday that Thaksin - wanted in Thailand to serve a two year jail term - had visited Saudi Arabia from Saturday to Monday.

Chavanont quoted a report from the Thai ambassador to Saudi Arabia that Thaksin had visited Jeddah and Riyadh in his private jet before leaving for an Asean country.

Thaksin stayed two nights in the Asean country before departing yesterday for a South Pacific nation.

Chavanont did not name the Asean and South Pacific countries, but said the government could not put pressure on them to hand over Thaksin as Thailand has no extradition treaty with them.

"What we could do is to ask those countries not to allow Thaksin to use them as a base to criticise Thailand," he said.

The Foreign Ministry has been well aware of Thaksin's whereabouts but has been unable to say much about it.

Thaksin visited three South Pacific countries - Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga - last July.

In Fiji, he reportedly conducted secret talks with Frank Bainimarama, controversial leader of the Pacific island's militaryinstalled regime.

Bainimarama is Fiji's selfappointed prime minister, who has drawn the ire of the international community by abrogating the constitution last April and refusing to hold democratic elections before 2014.

The Guardian online reported last July that it was claimed Thaksin was considering investing US$300 million (Bt9.6 trillion) in Fiji in return for protection from extradition.

The online newspaper reported that Thaksin had entered Fiji under an assumed name after his Thai passport was cancelled. The former prime minister has been issued new passports by the governments of Nicaragua, Uganda and Montenegro.

The Foreign Ministry believes Thaksin has used "Takki Singegra" as his name in his new passports.

At that time, the government claimed Thaksin had flown to Suva from Kuala Lumpur. Thai authorities had intended to apprehend him in Malaysia, but he flew out of the country in his Lear jet before they could act.

In the same week, Thaksin also visited Vanuatu and Tonga, where he was seeking to invest millions of dollars.

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