PHNOM PENH, Cambodia February 5, 2010 (AP)
Cambodia on Friday denied a report that Thailand's disgraced former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been granted citizenship, an allegation that had drawn threats in Bangkok that the billionaire ex-politician could lose his native Thai nationality.
Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the allegation, which surfaced earlier this week on "Khmer Intelligence News," a Cambodian anti-government Web site, was untrue.
"Cambodia never granted Cambodian citizenship to Thaksin," Khieu Kanharith told The Associated Press. "Even if Cambodia would give him citizenship, I think that Thaksin would not accept it."
Cambodia late last year named Thaksin, a fugitive from justice in Thailand, as its special economic adviser. The appointment and Thaksin's subsequent visit to Cambodia angered the government in Bangkok and resulted in a recall of ambassadors from both countries.
Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since 2006 military coup ousted him. He was convicted in absentia in 2008 of violating a conflict of interest law and sentenced to two years in prison, and his Thai passport has been revoked, forcing him to travel on other countries' passports.
His representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.
Thai officials frequently claim he is trying to undermine the government.
"I don't know about this report yet, but according to Thai laws, we are allowed to have only one nationality," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit told reporters Friday. "If he wants to use Cambodian nationality, he must give up Thai nationality first."
Cambodian-Thai relations are also strained over competing claims to some territory along their border near the hilltop temple known as Preah Vihear. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is to visit the area Saturday. Troops from the two nations had at least two brief clashes there last month.
Cambodia on Friday sent a letter of protest to Google, complaining that maps on its Google Earth service inaccurately place the border line near the disputed territory to favor Thailand's claims.