Thailand on Thursday recalled its Ambassador from neighbouring Cambodia and announced a complete “review” of ties. The move was in protest against the appointment of the former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, as a personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. On Wednesday, Mr. Thaksin was also appointed as an economic adviser to the Cambodian Government.
Twice elected Prime Minister, Mr. Thaksin was toppled in a military coup in 2006 at the height of an agitation against his rule by a section of people. Since then, he has remained in self-imposed exile except for a brief interlude when he was brought to trial on graft allegations. And, he jumped bail in that case when he went abroad with court’s permission in 2008. He was later convicted and sentenced in absentia.
In a statement following Mr. Hun Sen’s reported gesture towards Mr. Thaksin, the Thai Foreign Ministry said Cambodia’s action “is seen as interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs.” Eschewing any reference to him as former Prime Minister and identifying him as a police lieutenant colonel, a post Mr. Thaksin held prior to his political career, the statement described him as “a fugitive in a criminal case [who] is still active politically in Thailand”. Through video-addresses to his followers from unspecified locations abroad, he has often led a campaign against the present military-backed Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.