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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs          5   July  2011

Victorious Pheu Thai reported pushing Thaksin amnesty

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The Pheu Thai Party is consolidating its power as a majority government with more than 300 House seats to smooth the path for exiled former prime minister and its de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra to return home, a party source said.

The party is now trying to poach MPs from two main factions inside the Bhumjaithai Party led by Somsak Thepsuthin and Sora-at Klinprathum to have the desired number of at least 300 seats.

Four political parties - Chartthaipattana, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin, Phalang Chon Party and Mahachon - have now agreed to join Pheu Thai to form a coalition government with 299 House seats combined.

The source said Pheu Thai is also seeking to control three major ministries - the Foreign, Defence and Interior ministries - which are crucial to bringing Thaksin back to Thailand.

However, the source said the party would tread carefully and not rush the plan to bring Thaksin back home considering that his opponents would come out in opposition to his return, which could rock the stability of the new government.

"The party will have to wait for the right timing when the new government becomes strongest with the support of more than 300 House seats to ensure the passage of legislation related to the granting of amnesty is plain sailing," the source said.

Pheu Thai will also need to be sure that its coalition partners will be given the cabinet seats they desire to guarantee government stability.

The Bhumjaithai Party, which looks likely to be on the opposition bench, is now facing possible dissolution as there have been complaints of election fraud against the party.

If Bhumjaithai is dissolved, the situation in parliament would be even more favourable to Pheu Thai as the opposition camp would be too weak while the government would be more stable. Then, it should be the right time to grant amnesty to Thaksin and bring him home, the source said. This scenario may take one to two years or even a full four-year term in office to materialise, but it is not too long and is seen to be "worth the wait", the source said.

Before the right timing comes, the top priority for the new government will be to tackle the economic woes to sustain the government's popularity, the source said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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