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Thai political tension eases after Thaksin barred from amnesty

Publish By Updated 06/12/2012 7:53 pm in Business / no comments

 

BANGKOK, Nov. 21 — Political tension in Thailand has eased up since ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra released a handwritten letter saying he would not seek royal pardon from the upcoming amnesty next month.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), also known as yellow shirts movement, canceled on Monday a mass rally against the draft pardon decree in front of the government office in the Thai capital of Bangkok.

PAD core leaders were satisfied with the confirmation by Thailand’s Justice Minister Pracha Promnok that the proposed amnesty will exclude convicts of corruption and those who absconded, which means Thaksin will not be eligible for pardon.

In 2008, Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail for abusing power to help his ex-wife purchase a state-owned land plot in Bangkok. Instead of serving the jail term, he fled the country on a self-imposed exile.

Now that the government would not issue a royal decree that would benefit Thaksin, there was no reason for the demonstration, PAD spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said.

Last Tuesday, Thai government allegedly passed a draft amnesty decree that would bring royal pardon to Thaksin and pave the way for the ex-Prime Minister’s return from self-imposed exile, sparking threats of street protests from opponents, especially PAD, and fears that a new wave of political turmoil and conflict would further dampen investors’ confidence and hamper recovery from the worst floods in five decades.

Floods have dragged Thailand’s GDP growth forecast for 2011 down to 1.5 percent from the previous projection of 3.5 to 4 percent, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board announced Monday. Almost all industries in Thailand suffered from shrinking sales and production.

Consensus need to be achieved among all parts of the society to avoid fighting, conflict and instability to nurture the recovery of Thailand’s economy devastated by the severe flood, Payungsak Chartsuthipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said last Friday.

Much to Payungsak and other businessmen’s relief, Thailand’s Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said Sunday the draft amnesty decree excluded convicts found guilty of drug offences and corruption and those who absconded, preventing Thaksin from benefiting from the upcoming pardon.

The decree, to be endorsed by the King, will grant royal pardon for convicts on the occasion of Thai King’s 84th birthday on December 5. Pracha said the draft royal decree would not favor any individual in particular and run counter to the law.

Thaksin, whose government was toppled by a military coup in 2006, also called for unity in his letter. He said the country needs unity to ferry through the flooding crisis and he did not want to see any moves that would hinder unity.

“I am willing to support all measures that lead to national reconciliation,” he wrote. 

 

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