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NEWS UPDATES 10 November 2009

Thailand determined to ask Cambodia to extradite Thaksin

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Thailand on Monday accused ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra of offending the country's monarchy, stepping up pressure on the fugitive tycoon as he prepares for a provocative trip to neighbouring Cambodia, an AFP report said.

The Thai government also said it was preparing a formal extradition request for Thaksin, who was toppled in a 2006 coup, when he visits Phnom Penh this week in his new capacity as economics adviser to the Cambodian leadership.

The row over Thaksin's appointment last week prompted Cambodia and Thailand to recall their respective ambassadors, deepening tensions after a series of deadly skirmishes on their border in the past year and a half.

Billionaire Thaksin was quoted by British daily The Times on Monday as calling for the reform of institutions around Thailand's revered monarchy, headed by 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

"Thailand needs to have a monarchy but it should not be abused or played by the palace circles," Thaksin reportedly said. "I can assure you His Majesty is above (politics), but those in the circle have a network."

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya - who has links to a royalist group that besieged Bangkok's airports last year to bring down the previous pro-Thaksin government - hit out at Thaksin's comments.

"I would like to say that Thaksin's interview violates the monarchy, which is the country's main institution. I wonder what the hidden agenda was that caused him to make this inappropriate move," Kasit told reporters.

"We have prepared, the foreign ministry will contact the attorney general to seek extradition when he arrives in Cambodia," Kasit said, reiterating the government's pledge last week to get Thaksin to face justice.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a close friend of Thaksin, has said he will reject any extradition request and that the former Thai leader's conviction in absentia for abuse of power last year was politically motivated.

Thaksin's presence on Thailand's doorstep - the closest he has come since he last fled in August 2008 - is also likely to alarm Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's shaky coalition government as it approaches the end of its first year in power.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency, citing a source in Cambodian government, reported this morning that Thaksin arrived in Phnom Penh in his personal jet from India. He is due to give a lecture to Cambodian economics experts on Thursday.


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