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Thai PM 'open' to political amnesty

() - June 2, 2007 - 4:44pm

BANGKOK (AFP) - The Thai prime minister said Saturday he was "open" to the idea of proposing an amnesty to allow top leaders of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's disbanded political party to return to public office.

Army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said he had discussed the amnesty issue with Thailand's coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who overthrew Thaksin in a coup in September 2006.

"Overall, it's just an idea. Nothing has been decided so far," Surayud told reporters, adding he was "still open to the amnesty idea."

On Wednesday, Thailand's Constitutional Tribunal disbanded Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party and barred him and 110 senior party leaders from politics for five years due to election law violations.

But just two days after the landmark ruling, Sonthi told government-owned television Channel 11 Friday that he did not object to the idea of granting an amnesty to the 111 TRT executives.

While suggesting Thaksin's possible return to politics, Sonthi stressed that the deposed former premier first had to clear a corruption case.

Last month the Assets Examination Committee, a powerful anti-corruption body set up by the junta, recommended for the first time that Thaksin and his wife Pojaman should face charges over a controversial land purchase.

The attorney general will decide within weeks whether to bring the case to court.

The military has justified last year's bloodless coup by saying Thaksin was corrupt and that it would probe alleged graft during his five years in office.

Thaksin has remained in self-exile since the army toppled his twice-elected government. He currently lives in London.

ASSETS EXAMINATION COMMITTEE CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL GENERAL SONTHI BOONYARATGLIN ON WEDNESDAY POJAMAN PRIME MINISTER SURAYUD CHULANONT SONTHI THAI RAK THAI THAKSIN THAKSIN SHINAWATRA
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