Ex-wife of fugitive former Thai premier back in Bangkok

December 6th, 2008 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Dec 6 (DPA) The ex-wife of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra has made a surprise return to Thailand at a time when the country’s political parties are jockeying among themselves to form a new coalition government.Pojaman Damapong, who has resumed her maiden name after divorcing Thkasin on Nov 14, arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport from Hong Kong at 10.30 p.m. Friday.

Pojaman and her youngest daughter Pinthongta were escorted by immigration police to an unknown destination. Police Lieutenant General Chatchawal Suksomjit said there was no arrest warrant for the former first lady, although she faces a three-year jail sentence for tax evasion, said The Nation newspaper.

Lawyers last month launched an appeal against the Criminal Court July 31 verdict against Pojaman, which carried a three-year jail sentence.

Shortly after the sentence, Pojaman and her then husband Thaksin, who was prime minister between 2001-06, were granted court permission after posting bail to fly to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

On Aug 10, they flew to London, where they lived in self-exile until the British government revoked their tourist visas in early November.

Suvarnabhumi airport was officially opened for business Friday, the same day Pojaman arrived, after the country’s main international airport had been completely shut down from Nov 26 to Dec 3 by followers of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a movement dedicated to blocking Thaksin’s return to politics and ending his behind-the-scenes control over the current government.

PAD lifted their siege of Suvarnabhumi after former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, was forced to step down by a court ruling that his People Power Party had committed election fraud in the Dec 23, 2007 polls, effectively banning Somchai and half the former cabinet from politics for five years.

The decision has left Thailand under a caretaker government headed by acting Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul.

Pojaman’s return comes at a time of intense jockeying among Thailand’s political parties to set up a new coalition government.

The majority of the members of the now-defunct People Power Party (PPP) have shifted over to the pro-Thaksin Pheau Thai Party, but a faction of more than 30 former PPP politicians are holding negotiations with the opposition Democrat Party to possibly set up the next coalition.

A Democrat-led government would be opposed by Thaksin, who remains in self exile but is very much involved in Thai politics.

But another “Thaksin proxy” government is likely to bring the PAD back to the streets with more protests.

Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in September 2006, and on Oct 21, 2008, was found guilty of abuse of power when he allowed his wife Pojaman to successfully bid on a plot of prime Bangkok land at a government auction during his premiership in 2003.

The Supreme Court for Poltical Office Holders sentenced Thaiksi to two years in jail, but found Pojaman, who has never held public office, not guilty.

Thaksin has criticized the verdict as being politically motivated and recently vowed to return to politics, despite his fugitive status.

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