Thai fury as Thaksin starts Cambodian job

The Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, wanted at home for a conviction on corruption charges, arrived in Cambodia yesterday to take up a government job offer that has set off a diplomatic row with Bangkok.

The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has made Thaksin an economic adviser to his government and offered him a home in Cambodia. "Thaksin is now in Cambodia. He flew in on a special flight and just landed at the military airport," said Khieu Kanharith, the country's Information Minister.

The former telecoms tycoon lives in self-imposed exile after being toppled in a 2006 coup and later found guilty on a conflict of interest charge. He spends much of his time in Dubai and has said he does not intend to live in Cambodia. Witnesses reported heavy security for his arrival, with black-uniformed troops carrying rifles deployed on the road into the capital from the airport. It was not clear how long he would stay. He is scheduled to give a lecture tomorrow to 300 economists at the finance ministry.

Thailand's government is outraged at the Cambodian move, not only because it sees Mr Thaksin as a fugitive from justice but because he now has a base across the border from which to organise his campaign to force new elections and return home.

The Thai cabinet agreed yesterday to scrap a memorandum of understanding covering plans by Thailand and Cambodia to exploit energy reserves in the Gulf of Thailand. Talks on finalising the agreement have been running for years.