Thaksin says army is 'interfering' in politics

In a pre-recorded video address to some 50,000 supporters, Thailand's ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra called on the army to stop "interfering" in the political process. Legislators are scheduled to vote on a new prime minister on Monday.


AFP - Thailand's ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra demanded the army stop "interfering" in the formation of a new government Saturday, in a pre-recorded video address to 50,000 rallying supporters.

"At the moment the army is interfering... Those people who interfere in forming the government must stop and withdraw," Thaksin said in the 20-minute video, though a live phone-in scheduled to follow was cancelled at the last minute.

Police said 50,000 supporters of Thaksin -- who is living in exile to avoid corruption charges at home -- had gathered in red shirts to show their allegiance, two days before a crucial vote by lawmakers for a new premier.

Prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law, was forced from office in a court ruling on December 3 that splintered the ruling coalition.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup but still enjoys wide support among poor, rural Thais, accused the army and judicial system of meddling after coalition members defected last week to support the opposition Democrat Party.

"We are still under a military coup... They have used the court to crack down on politicians. There is no other place in the world where a party has been dissolved twice," he said, referring to the banning of his political party Thai Rak Thai and its successor People Power Party.

"They must respect the people's decision... They should behave with a sportsman's spirit and not interfere," he added.

Rally leader Veera Musikapong said a live phone-in to Bangkok's National Stadium had been cancelled in the hope of securing support for a new governing coalition led by Puea Thai, the party newly formed to regroup Thaksin's allies.

Two former coalition members had promised to back Puea Thai if the telephone address was cancelled, he said.

"I will not conduct the phone-in but we will be the core party in a national coalition. Don't betray us otherwise you will meet with red shirts all over the country," Veera warned.

Meanwhile Thaksin issued a warning to those lawmakers who had defected to support the opposition Democrat Party.

"People know they will be punished," Thaksin said.

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