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Passport of ousted Thai PM is revoked

THAILAND'S government has revoked the personal passport of ousted and exiled former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra following several days of demonstrations that paralyzed Bangkok, a Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Thaksin, whom the government accuses of stoking the recent protests, has been on the run since he fled the country ahead of a conviction on corruption charges last year.

The revocation makes his passport invalid if he cannot secure other travel papers. Since fleeing, Thaksin has been spotted in Central America, London, Dubai and Hong Kong, among other places. He has said before that several countries have offered to issue him passports.

"If we believe the person who holds the passport is doing anything that could undermine the security of the nation, then we have the right to revoke the passport," Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said.

The document was revoked Sunday, he said. The government has already revoked his diplomatic passport.

The move comes a day after protests led by Thaksin's supporters ended in the face of a mounting military crackdown. The demonstrations forced the cancellation of a major Asian summit, paralyzed the capital for days and left two dead and 123 injured before leaders called them off.

A state of emergency remained in place yesterday, with soldiers patrolling intersections in the capital. Police are searching for the protest leaders, only three of whom are in custody, and checking airports in case some tried to flee the country, local television stations said. The three in custody are expected in court today, their lawyers said.

Bringing the protests to an end and rounding up the leaders may prove to be the easy part, analysts said yesterday. The harder task will be to restore the country's battered international image abroad and heal internal divisions - which have caused continuing unrest since Thaksin's ouster in a 2006 coup.


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