Thai government rejects dialogue offer from ex-PM

Bangkok, Feb 23 (IANS) The military junta-led Thai government has turned down a dialogue offer by exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to put an end to the decade-long political crisis in the country, the media reported on Tuesday.

Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, extended an invitation last weekend to the country’s military leaders to hold talks to help steer Thailand on a democratic path.

Senior officials said the main reason they declined the meeting is that the former prime minister, who escaped a 2008 court ruling over abuse of power while serving as premier, is a convict, and as a result is in no position to initiate negotiations with lawmakers, The Bangkok Post reported.

“It’s difficult for the police to talk with a person wanted in criminal cases,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn on Monday.

In a couple of interviews from Singapore, Thaksin had criticised the reforms process initiated by the junta and warned against it turning into a farce and leading to an anti-democratic regime, EFE news reported.

Since the 2006 military coup, Thailand has witnessed periods of instability with street protests and stand-offs between Thaksin’s supporters and detractors.

Besides political instability, Thailand is also currently facing economic problems, with foreign investment having fallen by 80 percent last year.

The country has witnessed 19 attempted or successful coups since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932.

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