France tries to gag Thaksin on Thai crisis

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France said Thursday it would try to prevent former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra from speaking out on the political crisis in his homeland while he is on its territory.

"Given the violence in Thailand ... we have told Mr Thaksin, who is on a strictly private visit to France, that he should abstain from any public appearance or statement on our territory," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The ministry was reacting after a little-known 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 Centre of Political and Foreign Affairs was still expected to go ahead, but added that the fugitive former Thai 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 want the former premier to return, 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 has not recently made a major public appearance, and reports suggest that Thai authorities would be angered if he were to enjoy a platform in France.

© 2010 AFP

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