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Thailand's Thaksin not interested in reconciliation process

Associated Press logo Associated Press 31/03/2017 By KAWEEWIT KAEWJINDA and GRANT PECK, Associated Press

BANGKOK — Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted by a military coup in 2006 and still the object of political passions, declared Friday he doesn't want to be included in a reconciliation process being promoted by the country's ruling junta.

Thaksin said he doesn't seek anyone's help by including him in the process, and instead wants an end to persecution of him and his family by the military and other enemies.

Thaksin expressed his thoughts in a Facebook posting, his first extensive political commentary in many months. He was forced from office over allegations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for Thailand's king, and has been in exile since 2008 to avoid a prison sentence for conflict of interest.

His ouster set off a sometimes-violent struggle for power between his supporters and opponents, and Thailand's military rulers continue to use legal pressures in an effort to block him from making a political comeback.

The junta, which seized power in 2014 from an elected government that had been led by Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been promoting a reconciliation process for the declared purpose of patching up political differences, though critics says it is part of a process to keep power in the hands of the military and the permanent bureaucracy rather than elected politicians.

Thaksin declared he also seeks peace and reconciliation.

"For the reconciliation process that is soon to happen — I ask that for every side to leave me out of the equation entirely. I do not want anyone to recommend anything that would help me," he wrote. "'In turn, the people in power should not use miracles and any way possible solely to try to get rid of me with taking into consideration the rule of law."

Thaksin wrote that the government tries to blame him for every bad thing that happens in Thailand, including bombings, but that the problems inevitably are caused by the government's failures.

Thaksin's remarks came just days after Thai authorities initiated a legal process to collect 17.6 billion baht ($503 million) in taxes they say he owes for his sale in 2006 of shares worth 73.3 billion baht ($1.88 billion) in his telecommunications company to a Singapore state holding company. His lawyers say the taxes were not applicable under the law in effect at that time, and that the Revenue Department's efforts are politically motivated.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ordered $1.4 billion of his assets seized for concealing his ownership of the family telecommunication group and tailoring government policies for his own financial gain.

Various legal attacks have also been made on his sister, and a ruling that as prime minister she had been negligent in administering a rice subsidy program led to her being issued a $1.3 billion fine, a ruling she is challenging.

Another political ally, Yingluck's foreign minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, was banned from politics for five years on Thursday on the basis that he acted illegally by restoring Thaksin's Thai passport that had been invalidated after he went into exile.

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