Thursday July 8 2010

MPs query how Thai leader got passport

By Yasiin Mugerwa

A parliamentary watchdog committee is investigating circumstances under which Uganda allegedly issued a diplomatic passport to fugitive former Thailand Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is wanted over corruption charges in his country.

To conceal his identity, the lawmakers on the Public Account Committee heard from a whistleblower that Mr Thaksin Shinawatra changed his name to Takki Shinegra.
The revelation came as PAC grilled the Internal Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr Steven Kagoda on the continued misuse of diplomatic passports.

Mr Nandala Mafabi, the PAC chairman, told reporters that a whistleblower, whom he refused to name because of the sensitivity of the matter, told the committee: “The government issued a diplomatic passport to Mr Shinawatra as a way of enticing him to invest here.”
Mr Shinawatra owns Go-lotto, a lottery firm.

“The former Thai premier is not even a citizen of this country,” Mr Mafabi said, adding,” This is a confirmation on how officials in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are abusing these passports.”

In what appears to be a simmering diplomatic row, the committee heard that the Thai vice foreign Minister, Panich Vikitsreth in November protested the move by the government to issue a diplomatic passport to Mr Shinawatra who is wanted on corruption charges.
In his response, Dr Kagoda denied knowledge of Mr Mr Shinawatra but said his ministry would investigate the matter.

“We don’t want any diplomatic row with Thailand; this is a matter I am going to investigate...”