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Rumors swirl of plot to kill Thaksin in Burma

Thailand’s Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat is confident the Myanmar government can protect deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra when he visits the country this week.

The minister was responding to rumors of an assassination plot against Thaksin ahead of the trip.

Thaksin will meet Myanmar President Thein Sein on Thursday when he visits Naypyidaw as a part of his three-day trip to Myanmar.

On Friday, Thaksin is expected to meet leading government MPs from Thailand as well as Thai and Myanmar businessmen in Tachilek—a border town opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.

Rumors have spread that there is a plot to assassinate Thaksin during his visit to Tachilek.

"I am confident Myanmar authorities will provide good protection," Sukumpol said.

Thaksin will stay at a hotel located far from the Thai-Myanmar border opposite Mae Sai. Sukumpol admitted protecting Thaksin would be difficult.

A border security source said it has not been confirmed if Thaksin will visit Tachilek, given recent unrest between Myanmar's ethnic minorities and local gang activity linked to the drug trade.

"Someone may plan to assassinate Thaksin and place the blame on those ethnic minorities and drug traders," the source said.

Last Friday, Myanmar authorities raided a house near Regina Hotel and Golf Club, where Thaksin will stay if his visit to Tachilek goes ahead.

Police confiscated three RPG grenades, gunpowder, and 10 M16 ammunition rounds from the house. A man in the house was detained for questioning. Myanmar police said there was no apparent connection between the arms cache and Thaksin's visit. A border security source said the seizure was a follow-up of a previous crackdown on cross-border arms smuggling.

However, Panthongtae Shinawatra, Thaksin's son, on Sunday said in a message on his Facebook page that he had received information from Thai border authorities that the ammunition seized would have been used to attack a pagoda in Tachilek where his father and the red-shirt supporters will attend a merit-making event next Saturday.

Mr Panthongtae said he believed a group of Thais are behind the plot, which he called the fifth attempt on his father's life. He said this latest plot involves the same group of people.

He expects that his father will stay clear of the border, which means red shirts will have to travel deeper into Myanmar to meet him.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai Surasit Jiamwichak said on Sunday he expected at least 10,000 residents and well-wishers will flock to meet Thaksin if he visits Tachilek.

Phetcharawat Wattanapongsirikul, leader of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 Group, estimated that about 5,000 red shirts from his organization will travel across the border to Tachilek to meet Thaksin.

He said they would leave on Friday night on about 100 buses from Mae Sai to see Thaksin at a hotel in Tachilek on Saturday.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday urged the government and the police to arrest Thaksin and bring him to face justice.

He said if the prime minister and her deputy Chalerm Yubamrung, who oversees the police force, fail to arrest Thaksin, they could be prosecuted for dereliction of duty.

Thaksin fled the country before the Supreme Court convicted him and sentenced him to two years in jail in the Ratchadaphisek land case.

This article is published courtesy of The Bangkok Post where it appeared online on Saturday, November 5, 2012.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 November 2012 15:19 )  

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