Thailand has requested that Cambodia rein in the activities of fugitive red-shirt leader and Phnom Penh resident Jakrapob Penkair, according to Thai media.
Cambodian Ambassador Eat Sophea was allegedly summoned by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this week and asked to “cooperate” by preventing the opposition activist from publicly criticising the coup, the Khao Sod Daily reported.
Jakrapob, a Thaksin-era minister, has lived in Cambodia in self-imposed exile since 2009, fleeing claims that he instigated violence as well as a lèse majesté charge, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. After the Thai army’s coup last month, the military junta announced it would “track down” Jakrapob, who has publicly vowed to create a resistance movement and institute a government in exile.
In an interview with blogger Andrew Spooner last week, Jakrapob called the junta “not only illegitimate but illegal and criminal”, and said he would consider using violence to restore democracy.
Last week, the National Council for Peace and Order summoned all those with lèse majesté charges, including Jakrapob, to turn themselves in by Monday or face harsher penalties.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Post yesterday that the Kingdom has “no idea” of Jakrapob’s whereabouts, and reiterated previous assertions that Cambodia would not play host to a Thai government in exile.
“So far, our authorities have confirmed that there is no presence of Jakrapob or red-shirt [political activities] in Cambodia,” said Koy Kuong, a spokesman with the Foreign Ministry.
Kuong said he had no knowledge of Cambodian Embassy officials being summoned by the Thai junta, and that he has not heard of any request to arrest or extradite Jakrapob.
“Tensions between Cambodia and the Thai junta are looming in the horizon,” said Chheang Vannarith, a senior fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. “Border conflicts between the two countries [could] potentially re-emerge any time.”
Officials at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh declined to speak to the Post yesterday, and Jakrapob did not return requests for comment.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE AND THE BANGKOK POST