Yingluck free to travel, if she asks
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Yingluck free to travel, if she asks

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has not been banned from travelling overseas, a spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order said on Saturday.

Col Winthai Suvaree, the army spokesman, said Ms Yingluck can still travel abroad, but needed to ask permission from the NCPO as she had done in the past.

Col Winthai was responding to a question about whether the NCPO feared Ms Yingluck would flee the country to escape facing criminal charges.

On Friday, Ms Yingluck was indicted in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions by Attorney-General Trakul Winitnaiyaphak. She is charged with dereliction of duty for failing to stop losses and corruption in the rice-pledging programme, in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code and the  National Anti-Corruption Act.

Shortly after being indicted, Ms Yingluck was impeached by the National Legislative Assembly for negligence in handling the rice-pledging scheme and banned from politics for five years.

However, a member of the Pheu Thai party said yesterday that Ms Yingluck’s ban from politics would quickly be overcome.

“There are many qualified people in the Pheu Thai party,” said Amnuay Khlangpha, a former Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri.

Many of those qualified people are not necessarily members of the Shinawatra family, but can still succeed her, he said.

“If you ask me whether Mr Oak [Thaksin’s son] or Ms Yaowapa [Thaksin’s younger sister] can succeed Ms Yingluck, my answer is there are many people and they are not necessarily from the Shinawatras,” he said.

He added that there is a list of people in the party who are suitable for leadership.

“But this issue still needs further discussions in the party,” Mr Amnuay said.

The Pheu Thai Party is known to be run by its de factor leader Thaksin, although he has been in self-exile abroad after the Supreme Administrative Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found him guilty of abusing power in the Ratchadaphisek land deal in 2008 during his administration.

Ms Yingluck will follow in elder brother Thaksin’s footsteps when she testifies in court after the Office of Attorney-General found strong evidence to indict her in the criminal case.

Ms Yingluck’s team of lawyers has gathered documents and evidence to counter the allegations and is ready to fight the charges against her.

“We’re dedicated and are confidence in the innocence of the former prime minister [Ms Yingluck],” said lawyer Norawit Lalaeng.

He would not disclose any details of the team’s preparations, but said Ms Yingluck did not have any “intention” of doing wrong or ignoring her duty in the rice-pledging scheme.

He said the scheme was aimed at improving the living standards of farmers.

The NCPO sees no signs of a threat to national security after Friday’s verdicts, said deputy government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

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