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Published on Wednesday, 07 November 2012 09:23
Ex-leader decides to change itinerary 'to protect' his red-shirt supporters
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will curtail a visit to Nay Pyi Taw and cancel a meeting with the red shirts at the border town of Tachilek, following advice from Thai and Myanmar security authorities.
Thaksin is scheduled to arrive in the Myanmar capital tomorrow for a one-day visit, his legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said yesterday. He also confirmed the ex-PM would not go to Tachilek.
"Due to the recent discovery of an assassination plot, security authorities of the two countries cited safety risks as the reason to avoid Tachilek," he said.
Noppadon said Thaksin decided to revise his itinerary because he did not want to put the red shirts at risk. A large number of red shirts had urged Thaksin to postpone his trip to Tachilek because of the alleged security concern.
Noppadon said security agencies should get to the bottom of the suspected plot because Thaksin had received death threats in the past.
The former PM spearheaded the "war on drugs" and this could be a motive behind the plot, he said.
More than 2,500 alleged drug dealers were killed during the controversial crackdown in 2003, and the Thaksin government accused by rights groups of inciting a nationwide spree of extrajudicial killings by police.
Last Friday, Myanmar officials beefed up security along the border ahead of a meeting organised by the Narcotics Control Board in Chiang Rai, opposite Tachilek.
This led to the seizure of assorted weapons allegedly belonging to traffickers. A Shan man was detained as a suspect.
In his initial statement, the man said he was given a contract to kill Thaksin, who allegedly wanted to pay his respects at the Tachilek Shwedagon Pagoda. The man was said to be vague on who offered him the contract and subsequently recanted his statement.
Myanmar authorities forwarded his statement to the Provincial Police Region 5, triggering several theories on the "plot".
Chalerm backs story
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said the Provincial Police had alerted him about the threat.
The case appeared to have reached a dead end after the Shan suspect recanted his statement and Thai authorities had no jurisdiction to investigate the case, Chalerm said. He said neither he nor the police had fabricated the story.
Commenting on the opposition's demand to issue an extradition request for Thaksin, Chalerm said the Democrats were in power for two years and eight months but failed to bring the fugitive back.
He said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva should directly notify the Office of the Attorney General about Thaksin's whereabouts, paving a way for an extradition.
National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said initial reports indicated a connection between the weapons seizure and the assassination attempt.
Paradorn said Thai authorities would have to wait for a full report from their Myanmar counterparts. Pending the verification, no conclusion could be drawn about any plot, he said.
Meanwhile, Thaksin's son Panthongtae Shinawatra posted pictures of the weapons seized in Tachilek on his Facebook account.
Panthongtae wanted to rebut Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat, who earlier voiced scepticism about the assassination attempt, saying the seizure included only three M-79 grenades without launchers. Panthongtae countered by displaying pictures of three seized launchers and a number of M-16 assault rifles.
Source: The Nation