Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Anti-Thaksin camp vows to launch counter-campaign

BANGKOK, March 5 (TNA) – A coalition of opponents of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies warned on Wednesday of an imminent unrest as a result of the recent government move to purge a number of senior government officials and interfere in judicial procedure, vowing to launch its campaign to counter the powers-that-be.

The Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD) issued its second statement entitled "Here Comes the Chaos", accusing the government led by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of insulting the public through its recent decisions, specifically the appointment of some members to the Cabinet and legislature with "unclean" track records, unfair transfers of some senior government officials and interference in the judiciary procedure in connection with corruption cases against the former prime minister.

PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila read a statement accusing Mr. Thaksin of pulling the strings behind the People Power Party (PPP), the leading party in the six-party coalition government

The statement claimed such moves were aimed to provoke social and political turmoil prior to a military reshuffle that might culminate in another coup to override the remaining coup-making council orders under which Mr. Thaksin may be put on trial.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee denied the accusation, saying the government would never stage a putsch to help Mr. Thaksin evade prosecution.

The PAD also announced that it would soon call a meeting of key members in all 76 provinces to plan a strategy to counter-balance and scrutinise the state authorities and follow up the progress of prosecution of the ex-premier.

Mr. Thaksin and his wife Pojaman are facing corruption and conflict of interest charges in connection with the purchase of a prime piece of Bangkok real estate in 2003, while he was prime minister.

The Supreme Court released him on an Bt8 million (US$267,000) bail and set a trial date on March 12.

The former prime minister was barred from leaving the country unless he first receives court permission.

The Attorney General's Office freed him on one million baht (US$33,530) bail in a second case in which he and his wife are accused of concealing ownership of shares in SC Asset, the family's property development company.

A hearing on whether Mr. Thaksin will be indicted was set for April 3. (TNA)-E001