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Thai PM: There won't be a coup d'etat

Thai PM: There won't be a coup d'etat

Thailand's prime minister said Saturday he saw no threat of his government being ousted in a coup despite speculation back home, insisting that the rule of law would triumph over intimidation.
Abhisit Vejjajiva said in an interview with The Associated Press that any talk of his government being overthrown was linked to the February court decision on whether to confiscate more than $2 billion in assets linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and his supporters' attempts to destabilize the country.
"I don't think there is any reason for a coup d'etat," Abhisit said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
"This government has been in office for just a little over a year. We have turned the economy around, implementing a number of policies that are reaching out to all sections of the population of Thailand. We are also observing the rule of law."
Abhisit said political opponents of his royalist party had sufficient rights to freedom of expression, and that there was no need for any political change outside of new elections.
He promised to hold early elections when there were assurances that violence and intimidation tactics would be avoided.
Thaksin's supporters and opponents have repeatedly taken to the streets since he was ousted in a 2006 coup, sparring over who has the right to rule the country. He fled into self-imposed exile in 2008 before a Thai court found him guilty of violating a conflict of interest law and sentenced him to two years in prison. A court will decide next month whether to seize more than $2 billion in Thaksin's assets.
Abhisit was appointed prime minister in December 2008 after a Thaksin-allied government was dissolved by a court. Thaksin's supporters say Abhisit came to power illegitimately and should make way for an elected government.
Addressing the speculation, Abhisit said, "It's my political opponents trying to step up their campaign against the government... To do that they always want to drum up support by making speculation about violence, about coup d'etats."
He called on all parties to respect the rule of law when the court issues its decision on Thaksin's assets Feb. 26.
Abhisit acknowledged that some in Thailand were "frustrated" that the legal system has been slow in addressing transgressors among his own supporters, who were believed responsible for breaking into a government TV office, seizing the prime minister's office for three months and occupying Bangkok's two airports.
"There's been constant progress on the work of the police on all those cases," he said. "I know that some people are frustrated that it's too slow for their liking."
Seeing the legal system work in these cases would help show Thailand's people that the rule of law applies equally to all, he said. Thaksin's supporters see it as rigged against the telecoms magnate who remains widely with the rural poor, upset by the control of Thailand's ruling elite.
"My policy is clear," Abhisit said. "I've told police or officials that they shouldn't look at who is involved in a case. They should look at the merit of these cases. I'm confident if they stick to that, that's the best way to prove that we are serious about the rule of law."
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Updated : 2021-03-06 17:00 GMT+08:00