BANGKOK – Thailand has the canceled the passports of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled the country last month to evade sentencing over the rice pledging scheme that she said was politically motivated.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said late Monday that Thailand’s embassies would inform foreign governments that Yingluck is no longer a Thai passport holder.
Yingluck had two personal and two diplomatic passports.
Yingluck, whose government was ousted in a 2014 coup, was sentenced to five years in prison in September for negligence in instituting a money-losing rice subsidy program. She fled Thailand before the verdict and is believed to be in the United Kingdom.
Yingluck has denied the charges, claiming they were politically motivated. The foreign ministry says it is believed she is living in the United Kingdom, but her exact whereabouts are unknown.
The foreign ministry said it’s not uncommon for Thais who must travel frequently to have multiple passports because visa applications can take weeks.
Thai police have said they are seeking an Interpol arrest warrant for Yingluck, but so far the international police organization has not issued any notice against her.
Yingluck’s conviction was the latest chapter in a decade-long struggle between Thailand’s traditional ruling class and the powerful political machine founded by Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a 2006 coup.
Yingluck was overthrown in 2014 in a military coup led by Prime Minister Prayuth, who was then the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army.
Thaksin has lived in Dubai since fleeing a corruption conviction that he says was politically motivated.
Prime Minister Prayuth’s ruling junta recently vowed to hold elections in November 2018, though a tight ban on political activities remains in place.
However elections will not restore the same level of democracy the kingdom enjoyed prior to Prime Minister Prayuth’s military coup.
Under the junta’s new charter elected politicians will be straitjacketed by an appointed Upper House and requirements to stick to a 20-year master plan.
SOURCE: AFP, VOA