Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Suthep sets Hun Sen straight on Thaksin

Published: 27/10/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Tuesday that he had explained to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen the issues surround ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Mr Hun Sen had promised not to interfere in Thai politics.

Mr Suthep said he told Mr Hun Sen during the weekend's Asean summit that Thaksin had not been unfairly treated as claimed. In fact, the former prime minister was found to have broken the law and was sentenced to imprisonment in a proper judicial process.

Mr Suthep said he told Mr Hun Sen that Thaksin fled the country not because of the Sept 19 2006 coup but to avoid the court's legal sentencing and a two-year jail term.

"The post-coup government stayed for only one year and a new constitution was approved by the people in a public referendum.

"Thaksin and his men accepted the constitution, took part in the elections and their party was the winner and subsequently formed governments in which Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat were the prime ministers.

"However, these two men were unseated because they had broken the law," Mr Suthep said.

On extradition, Mr Suthep said he told Mr Hun Sen said that although he and Thaksin were friends, Thailand would ask Cambodia to extradite Thaksin if he was in Cambodia, as allowed by the extradition treaty between the two countries.

"It is up to Cambodia to decide whether or not it would do as requested. The matter might have to be taken to court in the end,'' he added.

He also said that Mr Hun Sen accepted his request that the verbal exchanges between the leaders of the two countries should not lead to border tensions or a clash between soldiers.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that he believes Cambodia understands the issue better after Mr Suthep's clarification.

The foreign minister's secretary Chavanont Intarakomalsut said the Foreign Affairs Ministry will issue an official response to Mr Hun Sen, because he may have been given incorrect information about Thaksin.

Mr Hun Sen expressed sympathy for Thaksin during the Asean summit last week. He said Thaksin was treated unjustly and was homeless as a result, and that Thailand had allowed Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, his political rival, to attack him from Thai soil.

Mr Chavanont said the Foreign Ministry's statement will outline the facts about Thaksin because Mr Hun Sen might have been given incorrect information, leading to a misunderstanding and uncomfortable feelings between Thailand and Cambodia.

Mr Chavanont said the government had nothing to do with Sam Rainsy being invited to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. Moreover, Sam Rainsy, unlike Thaksin, was not a convicted criminal and could enter the country as an ordinary tourist.

On the issue of Thaksin's possible extradition if he goes to and stays in Cambodia, he said it was a matter for the appropriate parties to determine whether he is a political victim or convicted criminal. It was not a subject for verbal argument.

Mr Chavanont said the Foreign Ministry has to be careful not to turn the Thaksin case into a dispute between countries. The government had no policy to hold talks in secret in exchange for some benefit without telling the people, he said.

In the morning, members of the People's Assembly of Thailand led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong gathered in front of the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok to protest against Mr Hun Sen's offer of a home for Thaksin to Cambodia.

"The People's Assembly of Thailand condemn the Cambodian prime minister for taking the opportunity during the Asean Summit to tell reporters that Cambodia would not hand over Thaksin if Thailand sought his extradition," he said.

"This is an insult to Thailand, the Thai government and the Thai people, and it destroys good relations between the two countries."

He demanded Mr Hun Sen apologise to Thailand.

The group also condemned Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who met Mr Hun Sen in Phnom Penh last week.

Security in front of the Cambodian embassy was tightened. A company of police were deployed to guard around the embassy and metal barriers placed around the entrance.

Army chief Anupong Paojinda, meanwhile, reiterated that military ties between Cambodia and Thailand remain tight.

Gen Anupong would not say whether Gen Chavalit's visit to the neighbouring country would affect the army in any way. He said he did not know whether Gen Chavalit was there to discuss personal matters or not.

The army chief saidthat situation along the Thai-Cambodian border remains calm, and that soldiers of the two countries are obeying their governments' decision to solve the border conflict through bilateral talks.

"I can assure you that the situation there will not lead to fighting, and we will not resort to the use of force," Gen Anupong said.

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