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Thailand's generals warned: no coup

Date

Lindsay Murdoch

"Those who are addicted to power will do anything to obtain power" ... Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"Those who are addicted to power will do anything to obtain power" ... Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Photo: AP

BANGKOK: As Thailand's ruling Puea Thai Party confirmed plans to enact legislation allowing it to have a say in military appointments, the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra warned military leaders against overthrowing the government run by his younger sister Yingluck.

Mr Thaksin said the international community would not accept another coup by the military, which overthrew his democratically elected government in 2006, although he could not rule out the possibility because the military was addicted to power.

''Those who are addicted to ya ba [methamphetamine] will do anything to get the pills,'' Mr Thaksin said during an interview with the Bangkok Post at his base in Dubai.

''Similarly those who are addicted to power will do anything to obtain power.''

Amending the Defence Administration Act will alienate powerful generals.

The coup-installed government that overthrew Mr Thaksin passed controversial legislation that was aimed at preventing political interference in the armed forces.

Ms Yingluck's party, which had a decisive victory at national elections in July, was unable to influence the appointments of top commanders in the annual military reshuffle which comes into force this month.

A Puea Thai spokesman, Prompong Nopparit, said the party would amend the legislation after the government had dealt with devastating floods.

The army has played a key role in flood relief and the building of flood embankments that have prevented Bangkok being inundated in the worst floods in half a century.

In Dubai, Mr Thaksin said that to prevent coups ''we must strengthen democracy … if democracy flourishes the military will have to stay in its camps''.

Mr Thaksin declared he had quit politics but raised the possibility of returning to Thailand after five years in self-imposed exile to avoid a two-year jail sentence for corruption - a sentence which he claimed was a political set-up.

Analysts say the return of Mr Thaksin, a divisive figure, would create a possible flashpoint for renewed instability in the country that has suffered years of political upheaval, including deadly streets riots.

Rejecting claims that he is the real power behind his sister, making key decisions from abroad, Mr Thaksin said, ''I will not interfere'', but added ''Yingluck represents me''.

Mr Thaksin declined to comment on efforts by his supporters to seek a royal pardon or amnesty ahead of his return to Thailand.

''A royal pardon is his majesty the king's prerogative … nobody should make any comment,'' he said, referring to the country's King Bhumibol.

Government critics say Puea Thai supporters are pushing for mass pardons that would include Mr Thaksin.

Thailand has had 18 coups or attempted coups since 1932.

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