KATHMANDU: Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra landed in Kathmandu incognito today, but police and immigration officials refused to acknowledge any such visit by Thailand’s billionaire ex-leader.
It is learnt that Shinawatra landed in Kathmandu ‘all of a sudden’ from Myanmar, along with at least four persons, whose identities could not be ascertained. Thaksin flew to Kathmandu in a chartered flight as ‘a guest of Thai Ambassador to Nepal Maria Sangiampongsa’ and landed at Tribhuvan International Airport at 4:30pm.
Thaksin was received at TIA by the Thai ambassador and embassy officials.
Knowledgeable sources said the former Thai prime minister then headed for Lumbini in an Yeti Air flight along with the Thai envoy.
DIG Narayan Bastakoti merely confirmed that Thai embassy officials were at the airport to ‘receive a VIP guest’. The security chief at the airport denied having any knowledge about the visiting personality. “Was it the ex-prime minister of Thailand himself?” he asked, feigning that he had no idea about his arrival.
THT correspondent reported from Bhairahawa that Thaksin landed at Gautam Buddha Airport around 6:15 pm. Police Inspector Dharmaraj Bhandari of Area Police Office, Lumbini, said he came to know about Thaksin’s visit through television channels and subsequently deployed police for his security.
Foreign Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai in Kathmandu said his ministry was not ‘formally aware’ about his sojourn, while Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha told this daily that he would ask the Thai envoy about the visit. A knowledgeable source, however, claimed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed about the visit weeks ago, but it was kept a top secret due to Thaksin’s fugitive status.
Security has been beefed up in Lumbini, where Thaksin is scheduled to spend night at Kasai Hotel. He will perform prayers at the Thai Monastery as per Buddhist tradition tomorrow morning.
Thaksin will return to Kathmandu in a Yeti Air flight tomorrow and will fly to Dubai without entering the city. A staff at the Thai embassy, however, claimed that members
of Thaksin’s delegation would visit the Royal Thai Embassy at Maharajgunj tomorrow morning.
Thaksin’s Kathmandu sojourn coincides with media reports in Bangkok today that said Thailand gave the fugitive former prime minister his passport back.
Thaksin was stripped of his passport by the previous Thai government
but received citizenship from Montenegro last year, allowing him to travel internationally.
Thaksin’s sister Yingluck, now Thai prime minister, won a resounding election victory in July of this year, in the wake of mass opposition protests in 2010 by his ‘Red Shirt’ supporters which ended with a bloody army crackdown.
In a long-awaited decision, Thailand’s Supreme Court in February 2010 ruled that the fugitive former prime minister had abused his power for personal gains and should be stripped of $1.4 billion of his frozen $2.3-billion fortune.
Thaksin remains a hugely divisive figure in his country and was deposed by the army in 2006. He lives in Dubai to avoid a two-year prison term on a conviction for corruption that he contends is politically motivated. In Bangkok, Yingluck government faces tensions stoked by Thaksin’s enemies, already irked by recent reports of plans to seek a royal pardon for
the ex-premier, allowing Thaksin to return without serving time.Source: THT