Military junta that grabbed power in Thailand eye former leader’s wealth

BANGKOK, Sept 22 (AFP) – Thailand may seize the assets of ousted billionaire prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the new military junta said on Friday. “It’s under consideration on how we will proceed” with Thaksin’s vast assets, said Air Chief Marshall Chalit Pukbhasuk, the head of the air force and one of the military commanders who toppled Thaksin on Tuesday.

The junta earlier expanded the powers of the national police chief, which would make it easier to press ahead with prosecutions against Thaksin and other members of his government.

Thailand’s auditor general told local media that she would be ready to complete at least one long-standing corruption investigation within days.

The junta has promised to appoint a new civilian government within two weeks, and promised to draft a new a constitution to clear the way for elections in October 2007.

Chalit said the generals were considering at least five candidates to become the new prime minister, but he declined to reveal their names.

“The new prime minister is likely to be a legal expert because he has to implement constitutional reforms, while his deputies can oversee economic