Thailand's Thaksin says amnesty key to reconciliation

JAKARTA - Thailand's fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Tuesday called for a highly-controversial amnesty, saying it is a "key to reconciliation" and long overdue.

"Everyone says the same thing, that reconciliation must include amnesty," he told a panel discussion at the Strategic Review Forum in Jakarta. "It's long overdue for Thailand to bring about reconciliation.

"If you learn how to forgive, that's the only key, it's the key to reconciliation. I'd like to urge all parties in Thailand to forgive."

Thailand's government in June said it was postponing voting in parliament on controversial "reconciliation" proposals that have stoked political tensions in the divided kingdom.

The bills are strongly opposed by opposition MPs who fear they will be used to grant an amnesty to Thaksin, ousted by royalist generals in a 2006 coup.

Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon who lives in Dubai to avoid a jail term for corruption, is loved by many rural and poor Thais for his populist policies while in power, but hated by the elite who see him as a threat to the monarchy.

Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra is now prime minister following a landslide election win by her brother's party last year.

One of the draft laws, which aims to amend the kingdom's constitution, has angered royalists who see it as an attempt to weaken the monarchy.

Thailand's Constitutional Court on Friday found complaints against plans by Yingluck's party to amend the constitution - drawn up under the military junta that deposed Thaksin - were unfounded.

Thaksin denied his desire to return to Thailand was linked to the court ruling.

"I don't think the Constitutional Court has anything to do with (whether) I'm going back or not," he said.

"We'd like to see the constitution amended in a democratic way."

Thousands of royalist "Yellow Shirt" protesters blockaded parliament in May to prevent the house from discussing the reconciliation plans.

In 2010 mass protests by Thaksin's "Red Shirt" supporters against the previous government descended into the kingdom's worst civil violence in decades, with more than 90 people killed in a military crackdown. -China Daily/Asia News Network

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