Thai ruling junta issues permit for ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra to travel abroad

Military authorities in Thailand allow deposed former prime minister Yingluck permission to leave the country, citing her efforts to keep a 'low profile'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 12:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 11:35pm

Thailand's junta has given permission to ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to leave the country for the first time since a May 22 coup.

Yingluck is expected to travel to Paris next week to attend the 65th birthday party of her elder brother, the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Her request was approved because she has stayed out of politics since the military seized power, according to the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

"The NCPO yesterday approved prime minister Yingluck's request to leave the country because since the coup she has never shown that she was against the NCPO's work," army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said.

"She has kept a low profile ever since."

Yingluck was removed from office in a controversial court ruling shortly before the army toppled the remnants of her elected government. She was among hundreds of people summoned and temporarily detained by the junta afterwards.

Yingluck, who was indicted for dereliction of duty a day after she was removed from office, could face criminal charges linked to a loss-making rice subsidy scheme.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) said yesterday it was referring that case to the attorney general's office for possible referral to a Supreme Court criminal division.

"The defendant as prime minister should have suspended the scheme as soon as she heard of corruption and losses," it said in a statement.

It was not clear if the decision by the NACC to forward the case would have any bearing on Yingluck's travel plans.

The commission said the decision to let her go abroad was the military's.

Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006 and later fled Thailand to avoid prison for a corruption conviction that he insists was politically motivated. The billionaire turned populist politician, who clashed with the royalist establishment before his overthrow, lives in Dubai but remains a hugely divisive figure in his home country.

An attempt by his political allies to push through a political amnesty that could have led to his return sparked months of opposition street protests leading up to the May coup.

A military source said Yingluck must inform the Thai authorities of her whereabouts through overseas embassies while travelling.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power after the street rallies and related violence left 28 people dead and paralysed Yingluck's government.

The junta has ruled out holding new elections before around October of next year, despite appeals from the United States and the European Union for a return to democracy.

Additional reporting by Reuters