Ousted Thai PM for new polls, confirms bowing out

London, September 21 :

Ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra called today for snap elections in his homeland and confirmed he is bowing out of politics, urging “national reconciliation” after the shock coup in Bangkok.

In a statement issued in London, where he flew following the coup yesterday, he said he would devote himself to development and possibly charity work.

“We hope the new regime will quickly arrange a new general election and continue to uphold the principles of democracy for the future of all Thais.” The statement added that Thaksin “as of now

will take a deserved rest,” adding that he “will be planning to work on research, on development and possible charitable work for Thailand.” A short time later a smiling Thaksin emerged to confirm to reporters that he was going “on holiday,” before heading off to buy Thai groceries.

Thaksin flew in to London yesterday afternoon from New York, where he had been attending the UN General Assembly when military chiefs led by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin staged a bloodless coup in Bangkok.

Sonthi, who claims the support of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has since said Thaksin was welcome back in Thailand at any time but that he could be put on trial. The general did not indicate what the charges might be.

The British government, which has a history of giving refuge to political exiles, has made it clear that the Thai premier is on a private trip. “It’s not in an official capacity.”

Political meetings banned :

BANGKOK: Thailand’s coup leaders on Thursday banned political parties from holding meetings or from conducting any other activities, according to a statement read on national television. “In order to maintain law and order, meetings of political parties and conducting of other political activities are banned,” the statement said. “Political gatherings of more than five people have already been banned, but political activities can resume when normalcy is restored,” it said. — AFP