Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha
PRIME Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that he welcomed Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to visit Cambodia, adding that he could provide accommodations for the exiled former leader, according to TVK state television.
“[Thaksin] can come to visit Cambodia anytime,” Hun Sen reportedly said. “I am ready to arrange a house for him to use during his stay in Cambodia.”
Hun Sen’s remarks came during a private meeting with another former Thai prime minister, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who ruled from 1996 to ’97.
Chavalit recently joined the opposition Puea Thai party with which Thaksin, who was ousted from the premiership in a 2006 coup, is associated.
Hun Sen called Thaksin, who faces corruption charges in his own country, his “eternal friend” and also announced that the Cambodian government will establish a permanent mechanism to communicate with the Puea Thai party. Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, Hun Sen said, will chair this group and set up meetings between the two parties.
In February, opposition lawmakers requested that Hun Sen investigate media reports that Thaksin had sought refuge in Cambodia.
At the time, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, warned of the potential diplomatic consequences of Thaksin’s residing in the Kingdom.
“If he is in Cambodia, using it as a political staging ground, it would have adverse ramifications – not only for Thai-Cambodia relations, but also within the ASEAN framework – because Thaksin is at the centre of the Thai political quagmire,” he said.