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Thai Ex-Premier Thaksin Scheduled for Cambodia Visit

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, talks with former Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, talks with former Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra will be in Cambodia this week and next, where he is expected to attend a regional economic forum, give a lecture and golf, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday.

His visit will follow that of Thailand’s current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who is also Thaksin’s sister and the leader of his former party, on Thursday.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and is wanted in Thailand on charges related to corruption, is a divisive figure in Thai politics, and his close ties to Cambodia rankled the former government of Thailand and led to a diplomatic rift between the two countries in 2008 and 2009.

Thaksin will remain in Phnom Penh from Sept. 16 to Sept. 24 to attend the Asian Economic Future Conference, which is being held by the Royal Academy of Camboida, Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony in the capital on Monday.

Hun Sen said he would not be holding discussions with Thaksin on matters of national interest for Cambodia and Thailand, nor would the two of them discuss oil and gas issues.

“This is the role of the Thai government, and not the role of Thaksin Shinawatra,” Hun Sen said.

Cambodian officials have said they hope to re-engage in talks with Thailand over oil and gas exploration at offshore blocks in an area of the Gulf of Thailand that has not been fully demarcated.

Thaksin is expected to give a lecture on Asian economics on Saturday and to play a round of golf with Hun Sen in Siem Reap on Sunday. While in Siem Reap, Thaksin will also visit with supporters of his former political party, Hun Sen said.

The following week, Thai and Cambodian government officials are scheduled for a football game at Olympic Stadium.

The visits by Thai officials this week and next follow a change in government in Thailand since elections in July.

However, Kem Sokha, president of the minority opposition Human Rights Party, said Cambodia must be careful to avoid further disputes with Thailand, where a large number of activists oppose the current government.

“I would like to remind [Hun Sen] not to lose out to Thai tricks that will gain an economic interest from us,” he said.

Son Chhay, a lawmaker for the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said Thaksin’s visit could potentially upset some groups in Thaialnd, where he is avoiding corruption charges.

“Cambodia must respect the decisions of Thailand’s courts and not affect the laws of other countries, particularly neighboring countries,” he said.