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Anti-Thaksin group demand ex-premier’s passports revoked


August 22, 2008

Anti-Thaksin group demand ex-premier’s passports revoked
Hundreds of demonstrators led by the anti-Thaksin coalition marched to Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday morning to pressure the ministry to revoke both the diplomatic passport and the regular passport of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman as they have fled to London and is reportedly seeking political asylum in Britain.

Responding to the call, Thailand's Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag said he had moved to revoke former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's diplomatic passport, adding the final decision on the issue rests with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej who has to officially issue an order to do so.

"The Foreign Ministry has submitted a letter for the prime minister to consider further action regarding Thaksin's passport. It's for the premier to decide and order. This has become a national agenda," Tej said, "not just the ministry's."

The Minister said he has not received an official statement regarding Thaksin's seeking of political asylum in Britain. He clarified that the matter was Thaksin's personal request and that the Thai Foreign Ministry could not object since the matter was not within its authority.

All five core leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a coalition of anti-Thaksin groups -- Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Pipop Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpiboon and Somsak Kosaisuk -- led the demonstrators to rally peacefully at the ministry.

On Wednesday, thousands of PAD supporters marched to the British embassy, demanding that London deny political asylum to Mr. Thaksin and allow his extradition so he can stand trial over charges of corruption and abuse of power at home.

Thaksin skipped bail on August 11 in the Bangkok land purchase case and went into exile in the UK, accusing his political opponents (who removed him in the 2006 coup) of interfering in the judicial system and denying him a fair trial.

Thai prosecutors are considering  the possibility of asking for the ex-premier's extradition under the Siamese-British Treaty of 1911, the process which is likely to be lengthy and complicated.

The telecoms billionaire-turned-politician owns UK football club Manchester City and several estates in England.

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