Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has expressed support for a little-known political party that many former members of his disbanded party have joined ahead of general elections scheduled for December, his spokesman said yesterday.
Noppadol Pattama, Thaksin's lawyer and de facto spokesman in Thailand, said in a telephone interview that Thaksin approved of Palang Prachachon -- or People's Power Party -- that hundreds of members of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai party joined earlier this week because it has policies similar to his old party.
The decision to join the new party was an apparent attempt to meet a rule which stipulates that candidates must be members of a political party for 90 days before a general election.
"The party would be like a new stable home ... it will be a factory that produces good policies," said Noppadol, quoting a telephone conversation with Thaksin who has been in exile overseas since being ousted by a military coup last September.
The Thai military deposed Thaksin on Sept. 19 last year while he was abroad, accusing him of corruption and abuse of power. It installed an interim government and a council to draft a new constitution, which will be submitted to a national referendum on Aug. 19.
A general election is scheduled to be held before the end of the year.
Noppadol said Thaksin's support for the party would be in the form of political advice and not financial support.
"He has retired from politics as he has said many times before," Noppadol said. "He supports the party because it supports democracy and its policies are in line with those initiated by him and Thai Rak Thai."
Thaksin became a billionaire in the telecommunications sector before entering politics and serving as prime minister from 2001 until last year. He was accused of corruption and abuse of power during mass political protests in Bangkok last year that culminated in the September coup.
On Monday, about 440 former members of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai applied to become members of People's Power Party, said Samphan Lertnuwat, a former key Thai Rak Thai member.
Of those, 205 were former members of parliament, Samphan said.
Thaksin's public support came after he urged his countrymen in a newspaper interview published on Monday to reject a draft constitution pushed by the military-installed regime that deposed him.
In an interview in the Financial Times, Thaksin called the draft constitution "fruit from a poisoned tree" and an act of "political revenge" against him.
In May, a Thai court disbanded Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party and barred him and 110 of its executives from politics for five years for election law violations.