Pheu Thai denies Thaksin links

Pheu Thai denies Thaksin links

The Pheu Thai Party has vehemently denied accusations from critics that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is pulling its strings.

The claims, if proved true, could see the party dissolved as the organic law on political parties prohibits any interference with a political party by an outsider.

"Thaksin has nothing to do with the party," Pheu Thai's acting leader Pol Lt Gen Viroj Pao-in said on Tuesday.

"Former [Pheu Thai] MPs meeting Thaksin overseas was because they have a personal respect for the ex-premier and their meetings were regarding personal matters. The party wasn't involved," he said.

Pol Lt Gen Viroj was responding to growing calls for the Election Commission to look into Thaksin's alleged influence over Pheu Thai, which prompted the EC to say it was aware of the matter and was gathering evidence for a possible investigation.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said evidence already compiled included photos, video clips, media reports and opinions by all parties concerned.

The EC will later determine whether the evidence is sufficient to prove control by Thaksin over Pheu Thai's affairs as alleged, Pol Col Jarungvith said.

By control, the law means it must be proved the party lacks autonomy in conducting its own activities, he said.

And if this is the case, the party could face dissolution, he said.

Under the law on political parties, the EC is authorised to only investigate alleged interference with a political party.

The final decision on whether a political party should consequently be dissolved or not lies solely with the Constitutional Court.

Pol Lt Gen Viroj said Pheu Thai is ready to provide an explanation to the EC regarding alleged interference by Thaksin if it is required to.

"Why on earth would the party be dissolved? Thaksin has not been involved in the party's affairs at all," he said.

Another key Pheu Thai figure, Noppadon Pattama, said Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon only commented that it was the EC's duty to investigate Thaksin's alleged interference with Pheu Thai because the media had specifically asked him to do so.

Gen Prawit on Monday responded to media questions about Thaksin's alleged control over Pheu Thai by saying the media had better ask the EC if they thought the ex-premier's recent political activities were evidence of interference.

Former Thai Rak Thai MP and Pheu Thai member Sutin Klangsang said the selection of the next Pheu Thai Party leader set for Sunday will be free of any outside interference.

He said the candidates would include Pol Lt Gen Viroj, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan and another key member Chaturon Chaisang.

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