Sunday, November 15, 2009

Royalists protest in Thai capital against fugitive prime minister

Bangkok - A pro-royalist group Sunday protested in the Thai capital against the "ugly" Cambodian visit of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

About 20,000 demonstrators were expected in central Bangkok where speakers denounced Thaksin for his lack of patriotism in allying himself with a foreign government "for personal gain."

Thaksin left Cambodia Saturday after a five-day visit at the invitation of Prime Mnister Hun Sen, who hired him as an advisor and called him an "eternal friend" who was wrongly ousted in a bloodless 2006 coup.

Thaksin's activities in Cambodia, including meeting scores of his Thai supporters, seemed designed to undercut Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during the Asia-Pacific leaders conference in Singapore, Thai analysts said.

Sondhi Limtongkul, a leader of the royalist group, said it was important to remind everyone that Thaksin is a dangerous man.

"He is a publicist not a statesman. Everything he does is insincere and for his own ambition," he told German Press Agency dpa.

"It is quite incredible that Thaksin should allow his country to be insulted like this," he added.

The protest Sunday was also designed to emphasize Thaksin's lack of respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, said Somsak Kosaisuk, another nationalist leaders. Thaksin allegedly insulted the monarchy in a recent interview with the London Times, his critics said.

The status of the monarchy is particularly sensitive because 81-year-old King Bhumibol has been ill in hospital for the past two months.

Lawyers for Thaksin threatened defamation suits Saturday against anyone in Thailand who asserts that he is against the monarchy.

Thailand withdrew its ambassador when Cambodia refused to extradite Thaksin, who is fleeing from a two-year prison sentence for a conviction on charges of abusing power as prime minister. Cambodia also withdrew its ambassador and later accused a Thai national of spying. (dpa)


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