Thaksin eyes London move

BANGKOK (Nation): Sources claim that Thaksin Shinawatra may fly from New York Thaksin to join his family in London, where he owns a luxury real estate.

As last evening’s coup took shape Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, the wife of the caretaker prime minister, escaped to Singapore.

It was reported that the former Cabinet members of the Thaksin government may try to form a government in exile, prompting coup leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaklin to invite ambassadors and representatives of foreign countries in Bangkok for a meeting to clarify the situation.

It was not clear at press time this morning as to whether Thaksin has conceded power.

But any chances of his hope of regaining his power hinges upon strong military backing, whose support he appears to have lost.

Sources have said that Gen Ruengroj Mahasaranond, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was placed in custody together with Pol Gen Chidchai Vanasatidya, Deputy Prime Minister, as they tried to ward off the coup attempt last night.

Thaksin last night declared a state of emergency from New York by announcing the removal of Gen Sonthi and ordering him to answer to Chidchai at the PM’s Office. He also appointed Gen Ruengroj as in charge of all security aspects in Bangkok.

But Thaksin’s military supporters were subjugated. State television this morning aired a short broadcast showing Gen Sonthi with other heads of the armed forces making their way to the Chitralada Palace to brief His Majesty the King about the political situation.

It was reported that Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the president of the Privy Council, had an audience with HM the King late last night as the coup was under way.

The coup effectively tore apart the 1997 Constitution, abolished the Constitution Court, dissolved Parliaments and the Cabinet.

Gen Sonthi has emerged as Thailand’s most powerful magnate at the moment.

Thaksin was still in New York last evening and was scheduled to give an address at the UN General Assembly to discuss the current crisis in Thailand. But the event was canceled.

The ousted government’s spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said from New York that Thaksin would decide soon if he would still return to Thailand. “Prime Minister Thaksin is now in New York and he has not yet made up his mind where he will go. But he will have to make a decision soon,” he said.

After canceling his UN speech he holed up in a top New York hotel for much of the day as the coup went ahead in Bangkok.

The billionaire politician still has an official plane at his disposal. He has a private residence in London, where one of his daughters is studying.

A senior Thai official in New York said earlier that Thaksin planned to leave the United States overnight but that his destination was unknown.

A US official in Bangkok said the United States viewed the coup negatively and was keeping a close watch on the political developments in Thailand.

“We hope that Thai society and the political actors find a way peaceful solution. But, the US reacts negatively to what is happening in Thailand now,” he said last night.

It is not known where Panthongtae, the family’s only son, is, or whether he followed his mother to Singapore last night. The whereabouts of the PM’s daughters Paethongtae and Pinthongta were also not known. Pinthongta is a student in London while Paethongtae is a political science student at Chulalongkorn University.

Phuket News
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