Thaksin calls on Thai king to end conflict
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In an interview with FRANCE 24, Thaksin Shinawatra called on Thailand's monarch to intervene in the current political crisis. An international arrest warrant has been issued for the former Thai prime minister, who lives in exile.
The shadow of Thaksin Shinawatra haunts Thailand’s political landscape. Ousted by the military in 2006, the former Thai prime minister fled Thailand two years ago to escape a two-year prison sentence on corruption charges.
On Tuesday, a Thai court issued an international arrest warrant for Thaksin and a dozen of his key supporters in connection with violent anti-government protests in Bangkok earlier this week. The former Thai leader’s passport was also revoked, effectively preventing him from traveling.
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Thaksin issued an appeal for national reconciliation and called on the king to intervene in the current political crisis. “I have urged His Majesty, it’s the time for His Majesty to intervene,” he said. “He’s the only person who can intervene in this incident. Otherwise, the violence will be even wider and the confrontation will be more and more. Reconciliation is needed,” he said.
The 59-year-old telecommunications billionaire has spent most of his exile in Dubai, from where he could observe his supporters, dubbed “red shirts” take to the streets in Bangkok in mass demonstrations against Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government.
An ASEAN summit in the Thai town of Pattaya had to be cancelled over the weekend when Asian leaders were forced to flee by helicopter after a crowd of “red shirts” stormed the venue.
Demonstrations on the streets of Bangkok earlier this week were cancelled over threats of a military crackdown. Over the past few weeks, Thaksin made a series of speeches to his supporters in Thailand by videolink and phone.
The Thai government has since declared a state of emergency.
‘They’re afraid of my popularity’
From exile, Thaksin said the latest crackdown against him and his supporters was politically motivated. “They’re afraid of my popularity," he said, referring to his political opponents. "They want to shift the power from my side to their side at the expense of the country and the people.”
In his interview with FRANCE 24, Thaksin criticized the frequent military coups in Thailand’s political history. The Thai military has governed, on and off, between the late 1940s and the early 1990s – in a period riddled by coups, coup attempts and popular protests.
“We need democracy not only for the political elites,” he said. “We need democracy for all.”