BANGKOK — Thailand's opposition on Thursday filed a complaint with the police against the new foreign minister, accusing him of illegally helping fugitive former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
The move against Surapong Tovichakchaikul is the latest legal step taken by the elite-backed Democrat Party against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister.
"A court sentenced Mr Thaksin to two years in jail and an arrest warrant has also been issued for him on terrorism charges," the head of the Democrats' legal team, Wirat Kalayasiri, told AFP.
"But Mr Surapong helped him by talking to Japan," he added, referring to the minister's assistance for Thaksin to obtain a visa from the Japanese authorities.
Wirat said the opposition will also seek the support of at least 125 lawmakers for a petition seeking the removal of Surapong from office.
Thaksin, who served as Thai prime minister between 2001 and 2006 before being deposed in the coup, has been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.
His allies made a comeback in a general election last month that could potentially pave the way for the return of the former telecoms billionaire, who is hailed by many poor Thais but reviled by the royalist elite.
Just days after the poll win, the Democrats launched a legal bid with the Election Commission to have Yingluck's Puea Thai party disbanded on the grounds that banned politicians were involved in its campaign.
Thailand has been plagued by frequent political unrest since the 2006 coup, culminating in protests by Thaksin's "Red Shirt" supporters last year which prompted a military crackdown that left more than 90 people dead.
The previous government accused the fugitive of bankrolling the demonstrations and inciting unrest, and a Thai court last year approved an arrest warrant for him on terrorism charges in relation to the rallies.
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