France makes Thaksin cancel speech: government
France said Tuesday it had persuaded Thailand's ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to abandon a speech in Paris on the Thai political crisis, but the event's organisers insisted it would go ahead.
"Thaksin Shinawatra assured us he would do what was asked," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters, referring to French officials' demands last week that should not speak in Paris on May 31 as planned.
Valero said the address to journalists, organised by a little-known think tank called the Centre of Political and Foreign Affairs, "was no longer planned" and Thaksin "told us he would not come back" to France.
But the head of the group of organising the speech, Fabien Baussart, told AFP: "This event is still scheduled and it will take place whether the foreign ministry wants it to or not."
"It is an invitation to a private place which the foreign ministry is not in charge of," he added. "The ministry is going after him and I'd really like to know why."
France said Thursday it had asked Thaksin to refrain from speaking in public during his private visit to France because of the tense situation in Thailand, where political instability has boiled over into deadly street violence.
A Thai court on Tuesday issued a warrant for Thaksin's arrest on terrorism charges, which carry a maximum penalty of death, over accusations that he has been bankrolling the protests and inciting unrest from overseas.
Valero said France was not currently bound by the warrant. After Thursday's statements, the organisers of the speaking event said Thaksin had temporarily left Paris for London.
Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006 and has been living in self-imposed exile, mainly in Dubai, to avoid a jail term for corruption.
© 2010 AFP