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Supporters blast move to strip ex-Thai PM of rank

Supporters blast move to strip ex-Thai PM of rank

Tensions in politically divided Thailand could flare if the government goes ahead with a proposal to strip former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of his royal decorations and police rank, a spokesman for the fugitive leader warned Wednesday.
Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect to the country's monarch. He fled abroad in 2008 ahead of being sentenced to two years in prison for violating a conflict of interest law.
Thailand remains politically unstable because of an ongoing struggle for power between Thaksin's supporters and opponents.
On Monday, the Council of State, the government's legal advisory body, recommended that the police department revoke Thaksin's rank of police lieutenant colonel. He served in the police force in 1973-1987.
"The government has not brought about the national reconciliation it promised," Noppadon Pattama, one of Thaksin's lawyers, said Wednesday. "Instead of governing the country, the government is devoting its time to destroying a political rival. This will only polarize the Thai people further. People who love Thaksin are not going to be happy."
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dismissed allegations that the move was politically motivated.
"Everything will be done in accordance with the rules ... the government did not intervene," he told reporters.
The recommendation is to be forwarded to the Cabinet Secretariat and then to the police department before being returned to the prime minister's office for action.
Thaksin remains widely popular among rural people and the urban poor, who benefited from his social welfare policies. He is still highly influential, rallying protesters in telephoned speeches from aboard.
His supporters say the Bangkok-centered elite is ignoring the mandate Thaksin won in two democratic elections because it feels its own privileges are threatened.
Thaksin, who has frequently complained of being persecuted, responded to the latest move against him on his Twitter page on the Internet.
"Thank you everyone for your concern about the stripping of my ranks," Thaksin said. "It is normal for this government. If they could find a law to justify killing me, they would have done it a long time ago."


Updated : 2021-05-18 16:04 GMT+08:00