Thaksin supporters seek leave to party in Paris

Thaksin supporters seek leave to party in Paris

The National Council for Peace and Order is considering requests for permission to travel abroad as former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra prepares to celebrate his birthday in Paris on July 26.

The requests do not mention the party, but the junta's head of legal and judicial affairs, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, said their intentions were obvious. He did not reveal the identity of those making the travel requests.

Many of Thaksin's political allies and anti-coup activists are among those the junta has detained, questioned and barred from travelling overseas since the coup on May 22 because of fears they will hold political events or incite unrest.

“Whether they will be granted permission depends only on NCPO chief Prayuth Chan-ocha,” Gen Paiboon said.

Thaksin fled a two-year jail term handed down by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in 2008 after being found guilty of abusing power in an illegal land deal. He will turn 65 on Wednesday.

Thaksin Shinawatra (AFP photo)

The venue of his birthday party is the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, a luxury hotel in the French capital, a Pheu Thai source said on Saturday.

Key Pheu Thai and red-shirt figures intend on joining celebrations if they receive permission by the NCPO, the source said.

Last year, Thaksin’s birthday party was held in Hong Kong and reportedly drew more than 100 Pheu Thai Party MPs and ministers wanting to celebrate with their de facto leader.

Thaksin has avoided holding the celebration in a country near Thailand this year for fear it could be interpreted as a political gathering, a Pheu Thai source said. His supporters have decided to cancel a birthday celebration usually held at Wat Kaew Fa in Nonthaburi’s Bang Kruai district to avoid stirring trouble with the military regime.

Some Thaksin supporters may hold unofficial merit-making activities in their provinces independently, the source said.

Meanwhile, a member of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy has claimed former Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan and former MP Sunai Chullapongsathorn are in France. Earlier reports said they had fled Thailand for the US.

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