Fugitive former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled Dubai

Former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra speaks with the media upon her arrival at the supreme court on February 17, 2016 for a trial. Thailand’s top court on September 27, 2017 sentenced Yingluck in absentia to five years in prison for criminal negligence. (AFP)
Updated 28 September 2017

Fugitive former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled Dubai

BANGKOK/DUBAI: Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in Dubai but left for London on September 11, a Reuters source in the UAE said on Thursday.
The source spoke after Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s, the leader of Thailand’s military junta said that Yingluck was in Dubai, having fled there last month to avoid being jailed over a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of dollars.
Prayut’s clear comments on Yingluck’s whereabouts came a month after she ghosted out off Thailand, ducking a court ruling over charges she failed to stop graft and losses in a costly rice subsidy policy by her government.
On Wednesday Thailand’s top court sentenced her in absentia to five years’ jail, pulling the plug on her political career.
She maintained her innocence throughout the case, which she said was a political fit-up sculpted by her family’s enemies among the arch-royalist army and elite.
“I learned from the foreign ministry that now she is in Dubai,” said Prayut, who toppled Yingluck’s government from office in a 2014 coup.
Once a fresh arrest warrant is issued, Thai authorities may proceed with extradition efforts, he told reporters.
Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin, also a former premier, has a home in Dubai.
The 2001 rise of Thaksin, a billionaire former cop with a magic touch at the polls, rattled Thailand’s establishment and the country has since seesawed between elected governments and coups.
He fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid jail on a graft conviction he says was politically motivated.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, a key architect of the coup that took down Yingluck’s government, said “it’s good she is in Dubai.”
“Although don’t have extradition treaty … Dubai officials informed our foreign ministry that they will not allow Yingluck to make any political move.”
The 50-year-old, who still has the right to appeal, has not appeared in public since pulling the vanishing act on August 25, her initial ruling date.
The Shinawatra siblings lie at the center of a political battle that has chewed at Thailand for more than a decade.
Shinawatra-backed parties have dominated electoral politics since 2001, enraging Bangkok’s military-allied elite.
Unable to beat the Shinawatras at the polls, their rivals have turned to court rulings and coups to repeatedly knock their governments from power.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.