x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UK revokes ousted PM Thaksin's visa: Thai official

Britain revokes the visa of Thailand's ousted prime minister, who had been living in exile in England.

The former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had been convicted by a Thai court in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law and was sentenced to two years in prison.
The former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had been convicted by a Thai court in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law and was sentenced to two years in prison.

BANGKOK // The former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, facing a two-year jail sentence at home for breaking a conflict of interest law, has been barred from Britain where he was living in exile, a Thai official said today. British officials have refused to comment on the decision to revoke visas for Thaksin and his wife, the latest twist in Thailand's long-running political saga since the billionaire telecoms tycoon was removed in a 2006 coup. "The Foreign Ministry has checked the reports with British authorities and they have confirmed that the visas were revoked," said the ministry spokesman Thani Thong Phakdi. He did not know the reason for the move, and the British embassy in Bangkok declined to comment. Thai newspapers earlier cited what they said was an advisory issued by Britain's border agency yesterday to airlines cancelling the visas held by Thaksin and Potjaman Shinawatra. "Airlines are advised not to carry these passengers to the UK," the email message said, according to the Nation newspaper. Thaksin, who spent most of his time in exile in London after he was ousted, drawing headlines when he bought and later sold the Manchester City football club, was in China, a close aide said. "He is in Beijing on business," said the aide, without giving more details. Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail last month for breaking a conflict of interest law by getting involved in a government agency's sale of a piece of prime Bangkok land to his wife. She was cleared of any wrongdoing in the land case, but in July was sentenced to three years in jail for tax evasion. Thai prosecutors have issued numerous arrest warrants and urged London to extradite Thaksin, who won two landslide election victories but was ousted amid accusations of corruption and abuses of power. Thaksin, who fled to London with his wife in August, has said the case against him was politically motivated by his opponents and the jail term was meant to keep him out of the country's political arena for at least 10 years. "Nobody can bring me home except Their Majesties' graciousness or the will of the people," Thaksin said earlier this month in a 10-minute telephone call from Hong Kong to thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangkok. The campaign against Thaksin is largely driven by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) ? an unelected group comprising royalists, academics and businessmen ? while he continues to enjoy support in the countryside. The PAD has occupied the official compound of the prime minister's offices since August, demanding the current government stocked with Thaksin loyalists step aside. Thailand's political crisis dates back to 2005 when the PAD launched its first street campaign against Thaksin, whom it accused of cronyism and abuse of power. The country has meandered through a coup to elections and back to protests and shows no signs of resolution, to the dismay of investors worried about a lack of functioning government with a global economic recession looming. *Reuters