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Thai PM remains tightlipped on Thaksin passport issue

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September 28, 2008

Thailand Political Stalemate:
Thai PM remains tightlipped on Thaksin passport issue

Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday called on Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat to revoke the diplomatic passport of ousted premier Thaksin Shinwatra, who jumped his bail in Thailand and is now living in exile in Britain, reported local daily the Bangkok Post.

Abhisit reportedly asked Somchai, who is a brother-in-law of Thaksin, to show his responsibility by lifting Thaksin’s diplomatic passport as part of the ongoing legal process.

On Friday, Thailand’s Supreme Court issued a fresh warrant as Thaksin failed to report to court in an abuse of power case tied to an irregular lottery allegedly run by Thaksin, his former Cabinet and other officials.

There are three other arrest warrants issued for Thaksin, which are related to separate corruption cases. The penalties in each case carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Sompong Amornwiwt, newly appointed foreign minister, said it was up to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to make decision to revoke fugitive premier’s red (diplomatic) passport.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Somchai didn’t say if or when he would make the decision on the issue, which has dogged the ruling People Power Party government since Thaksin jumped the bail in August.

Red passports are usually issued to the country's former foreign ministers and prime ministers. It permits them certain diplomatic privileges while travelling abroad.

The military government of Surayud Chulanont revoked Thaksin's passport but former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama reversed the decision during the Samak government.

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