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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
Thai PM extends drugs war
By Tony Cheng
BBC, Bangkok

Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced a 60-day campaign to rid the kingdom of all social evils.

The programme will begin on Wednesday, and aims to eradicate drug addiction, organised crime, poverty and illegal weapons.

It follows previous hardline campaigns earlier this year against drugs and corruption.

Thai police stand over the body of a victim
The Thai drugs campaign is said to have already left thousands dead
However, despite public support for such schemes, it is unclear whether these government policies are having any permanent success.

It will be the third time this year that Mr Thaksin has extended the deadline to eliminate illegal drugs from Thailand.

After promising to do so by the end of April, when he launched Thailand's war against drugs, he later moved the date to the beginning of October.

Wednesday's new campaign will further extend that date.

"The war against dark influences", which was launched to eliminate corruption, also ran into problems when it was overshadowed by accusations from a massage parlour owner of widespread bribery amongst the police force.

But Thailand's prime minister remains unperturbed, and the government's hardline stance against criminals has been rewarded with approval ratings reaching as high as 70%.

Thailand is the world's largest per capita consumer of methamphetamine drugs and it is estimated that as many as 5% of the country's 63 million people are regular users.

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