Thai Opposition Challenges Government Over Thaksin’s Japan Visa

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 2:20 am (UTC-5)
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Thailand's main opposition party is demanding an explanation from the government of its role in Japan's decision to grant a visa to fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A Democratic Party spokesman says the government may have misled the public about its conversations with Japanese officials, citing discrepancies in accounts offered this week.

News reports say the recently defeated party is considering legal action against the new foreign minister, Surapong Towijakchaikul, if he encouraged Japan to issue the visa. Japanese law prohibits the granting of visas to fugitives except under special circumstances.

The reports say the opposition party argues the new Thai government, headed by Thaksin's younger sister, is legally obliged to continue to seek Thaksin's arrest and extradition. Thaksin was convicted in absentia on corruption charges while the Democrats were in power.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and has been living in self-exile in Dubai, claims his conviction was politically motivated. The new government has so far not said whether it will grant him an amnesty.

Thaksin was quoted Tuesday saying he wants to go to Japan to see how he can help that country recover from its March earthquake and tsunami.

The wealthy financier told Japan's Kyodo news agency that Thailand could help Japanese businesses relocate to Thailand and provide long-term visas for residents seeking to heal themselves in his country.