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Sanan resigns over corruption probe

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Sanan resigns over corruption probe | Thaiger

BANGKOK (AFP): Sanan Kachornprasart, Thailand’s powerful Interior Minister, resigned today as a political storm raged around the government after a corruption probe found Sanan guilty of filing a false financial declaration. “I quit from my two political positions and as an MP,” Sanan, the Democrat Party’s political kingmaker, told reporters outside his house before leaving for a press conference at the Interior Ministry. Sanan said he would step down as one of six deputy prime ministers and as the member of parliament for his district in northern Phichit province. But he said he would stay on as secretary-general of the ruling Democrats in the run-up to a general election which must be called before November. Sanan and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai had been under intense pressure since the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) found yesterday that Sanan filed a false statement outlining a 45-million-baht loan from a trading company. No such loan was ever made, raising questions over the source of Sanan’s considerable personal wealth. Thailand’s Constitutional Court is due to issue a ruling on the NCCC decision next month. If the decision is upheld, Sanan would in any case automatically lose his job under a clause in Thailand’s new anti-corruption constitution. Chuan admitted today that the party’s electoral hopes could be harmed by the scandal. “This will affect the party a little bit,” he said. Chuan enjoys a reputation as an honest man, a priceless commodity in Thai politics which has been tainted by scandals and corruption for decades. Up until today, Sanan, a former soldier, was regarded as the second most influential member of the government after Chuan. He twice engineered Chuan’s ascent to power but pundits frequently alleged that his brand of political arm-twisting was outdated in a modernizing Thailand, and that he should retire. In the early 1980s, Sanan became extremely wealthy, though investigators have never traced the source of this money. Sanan, who wears shirts in a range of vibrant hues according to the days of the week, frequently and laughingly calls himself “unusually rich” and loves spending money on horse races. His wife’s political career has also been clouded in recent weeks after her victory in Senate elections was nullified by the Election Commission, which found her guilty of vote-buying.

 

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