Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Thai deputy prime minister resigns

AP , BANGKOK

One of Thailand's deputy prime ministers announced his resignation yesterday, dealing a further blow to the government as it grapples with an ongoing political crisis.

Wissanu Krea-Ngam, one of six deputy prime ministers, was in charge of legal matters concerning the government. Political analysts had speculated that he planned to resign to avoid becoming a scapegoat for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's administration, which has been accused of widespread corruption.

"I told Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that I am resigning and the prime minister did not stop me," he told reporters. He said he expected his resignation to take effect "soon."

His departure comes after one of the government's top legal aides, Bovornsak Uwanno, resigned earlier this month to become a monk.

Wissanu had advised Thaksin through some of the embattled prime minister's highest-profile legal challenges, including the Thaksin family's sale of its controlling stake in their telecommunication empire, Shin Corp, to Singapore's state-owned Temasek Holdings for a tax-free US$1.9 billion.

The January sale sparked a national outcry that fueled massive anti-government protests. Critics allege the sale involved insider trading and that national assets were sold to a foreign government.

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