France trying to gag Shinawatra on Thai crisis: media

20th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

French authorities are seeking to prevent former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra from speaking out in Paris on the political crisis in his homeland, the newspaper Le Figaro reported Thursday.

Contacted by AFP, the French foreign ministry was not willing to confirm nor deny the report, which also alleged Thaksin was photographed buying luxury goods on the Champs-Elysees while fighting raged on the streets of Bangkok.

The newspaper did not publish the picture, but a foreign policy think tank issued an invitation to journalists to meet Thaksin on Monday next week at a press dinner in Paris to discuss the chaotic events of recent weeks.

Organisers confirmed that the event organised by the little-known Centre of Political and Foreign Affairs was still expected to go ahead, but added that the fugitive former leader had temporarily left Paris for London.

Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile, mainly in Dubai, to avoid a jail term for corruption.

Many of the "Red Shirt" protesters who have been demonstrating in Bangkok seek the return of the former premier, and the current government has accused him of bankrolling the protests and inciting unrest from overseas.

Thaksin has denied this in written statements and calls to radio stations but, according to Le Figaro, the French foreign ministry is trying to track him down and silence him in case he embarrasses his unenthusiastic hosts.

© 2010 AFP

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