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Source denies Thaksin is quitting politics

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File picture of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Bangkok Post

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – A source close to fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has quashed rumours that the ex-premier is washing his hands of politics, saying he is only waiting for the right time to step back into the political sphere.

Rumours have swirled after Thaksin tweeted on Sunday that he chose to celebrate his 70th birthday on July 26 with only his family.

His birthday parties have usually been attended by key Pheu Thai members, who flew from Thailand to offer him their best wishes. His comments on those occasions always came under close scrutiny for political messages they may contain.

His decision to have a private birthday party sparked speculation that he might turn his back on politics for good.

However, the source said: “If Big Tu [Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha] makes a misstep, we could immediately see renewed political activity by Thaksin.

“Thaksin may make it look like he is about to wash his hands of politics, but that is not the case. His trusted people still wield power within the party.”

Thaksin and his family members, according to the source, are eyeing Chiang Mai MP Sompong Amornwiwat as new party leader and Ubon Ratchathani MP Kriang Kantinan as his deputy.

Both of them are closely connected with Thaksin and his sister Yaowapa Wongsawat, the source noted.

Another source in the Pheu Thai Party made a similar comment, saying: “There have been new laws that make it difficult for Thaksin to get involved in politics, unlike in the past.”

Former energy minister and Pheu Thai key member Pongsak Ruktapongpisal, a close aide to Thaksin, on Friday announced he was quitting politics saying he has reached an age where feels he has been in politics for too long.

Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, Suthin Khlangsaeng, said Thaksin had never spelled out he would turn his back on politics and his decision not to invite politicians to his party does not mean he intends to quit.

“Regardless of whether Thaksin turns his back on politics, there would be no impact on Pheu Thai since he only serves as a spiritual leader,” said Mr Suthin. “The party can move forward in line with the path he laid out.”

Meanwhile, seven opposition parties on Monday held a news conference about their future missions.

They said they would push their campaign to have the charter amended and seminars will be organised in the middle of this month to drum up public support for the move.

Representatives from the opposition parties would also visit communities to listen to their problems, according to Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a key Pheu Thai figure.

The parties also expressed their support for a plan for the House of Representatives to set up a committee to keep abreast of politically motivated violent assaults.

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