Myanmar junta banes former Thai prime minister’s entry

Citing security concerns, the military regime in Myanmar has banned a former Thai prime minister from entering the country, officials said Tuesday. Chuan Leekpai, a two-time prime minister and now an opposition member of Parliament, said he was told by the Myanmar regime that he was not welcome in the country. He had been preparing for a three-day visit.

"I was informed by officials who arranged the trip for me that Myanmar cited security reasons for barring my private visit," Chuan told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The Thai foreign ministry said it was seeking explanation from Myanmar, noting that its reasons for not allowing Chuan to visit were unclear.

Chuan declined further comment but Prasong Soonsiri, who served as foreign minister under Chuan, said the ban was a signal that the junta favored the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and wanted no dealings with the opposition Democrat Party, of which Chuan is a leading member.

Prasong noted that the Thaksin government enjoys close business ties with Myanmar's generals and the prime minister's family telecommunications business has signed a number of deals with the neighboring country.

In contrast, Chuan's government did not shy away from noting some of Myanmar's human rights violations and over strong protest from the junta allowed nine Nobel laureates who were critical of the Yangon government to visit Thailand in 1992.

While in Thailand, the nine condemned the junta and demanded the release from detention of fellow laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, reports the AP. I.L.

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