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Thaksin appointed adviser

THAI former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was formally appointed economics adviser to the Cambodian government and “personal adviser” to Prime Minister Hun Sen by a Royal decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni and released Wednesday.

Thaksin was deposed as prime minister in a 2006 coup and self-exiled last year to avoid a prison term for corruption. Hun Sen caused a stir last month when he offered refuge in Cambodia to the fugitive billionaire, and the Thai government responded that it would pursue extradition should he arrive on Cambodian soil.

In a statement accompanying the decree, however, the Cambodian government reiterated its position that it would refuse extradition of Thaksin because he was prosecuted for “political reasons”. “This statement is to show our government’s position related to Thaksin’s case,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said. “He has a right to come any time he likes. Cambodia welcomes him.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said that by prolonging the Thaksin imbroglio, the government is seeking to distract the Cambodian public from the many domestic problems that plague the Kingdom. “We need to solve our own problems before we think about politics outside our country,” he said.

Last week, Thaksin denied rumours that he will travel to Cambodia to take up Hun Sen’s offer, fearing such a trip would cause further problems between Thailand and Cambodia, according to the Bangkok Post.

Asked Wednesday how Thaksin could fulfill his advisory responsibilities without travelling to Cambodia, Phay Siphan pointed to the possibility of telecommuting. “With the information superhighway, [Thaksin] can work anywhere around the globe in helping Cambodia develop the country,” Phay Siphan said.

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