Thaksin meets Iraqi PM amid row on status

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra has posted a note on his Facebook page describing his recent trip to Iraq, touting his success in promoting Thai-Iraqi relations and urging Thai ministers to quickly respond by strengthening business ties.

"On April 26 I visited Iraq and met with His Excellency Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki. We talked about the cooperation between the two countries in energy and food. He really is a practitioner and quickly ordered [Iraqi officials] to invite the [Thai] energy minister, agriculture minister and commerce minister to visit with a request that they should bring businessmen. They want Thai labourers but I am not so eager for this as Thailand still needs a lot of labourers. But I'm keen to let [Iraq] buy rubber, rice and sugar from Thailand, and let [Thai oil and gas firm] PTT help [Iraq] expand petroleum production capacity. They want to visit Thailand after our [ministers] visit them and put some concrete cooperation in practice between the two countries," he posted.

Thaksin's promotion of his role in promoting Thailand abroad follows last week's filing by appointed Senator Paiboon Nititawan, former senator Chirmsak Pinthong and political scientist Komsan Pokong of a petition with the Constitutional Court accusing Thaksin of violating Article 68 of the Constitution. They allege he violated the charter by assuming power to run the country without legitimacy, and also accused 238 Pheu Thai Party MPs of violating Article 122 by carrying out their duties under Thaksin's control.

The group submitted recordings of Thaksin addressing the party by videoconference.

Pheu Thai Party deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard, however, yesterday rebutted the Paiboon group's accusation, saying not one of the group's members had attended a party meeting, so they could not be familiar with Pheu Thai's command structure.

"Don't forget that Thaksin is a former prime minister. He knows what is and is not appropriate. He has never dominated or ordered party members to do anything. And constitutional amendment is the business of members of Parliament," Anusorn said.

He said the Pheu Thai Party insisted that its members would not testify to the Constitutional Court, as it has no power to consider its move to amend the charter.

Pro-government red-shirt protesters continued to rally in front of the Constitutional Court office for a 13th day yesterday, albeit in smaller numbers, calling on the court's nine judges to resign.

Leader Sornrak Malaithong said the group would take a break from protesting tomorrow and Tuesday before holding a big rally on Wednesday - the deadline set by the group for the judges to resign. If the judges did not respond, the group would step up the protest and seize five strategic spots around the Government Complex, Sornrak said. It would also submit gathered signatures and file a petition seeking the judges' impeachment to House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, the group leader said.

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