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Thaksin to explore option for return to Thailand in February after allies' election victory

Thaksin to explore option for return to Thailand in February after allies' election victory

Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Tuesday he could return to Thailand as early as mid-February but will not resume his career in politics after being ousted in a bloodless coup d'etat last year.
Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong, Thaksin congratulated the People's Power Party _ comprised of his allies _ for its victory at the polls on Sunday.
"This is the Thai people's wishes," said Thaksin. "I would like to congratulate the Thai people for bringing democracy back to Thailand."
The election should mark "the beginning of reconciliation efforts by all parties," he said.
"I want to see reconciliation to be started and then trust and confidence will come back to Thailand at the same time as democratic development ... I urge all the parties concerned to forget about the past and look forward to the bright and prosperous future of Thailand," he said.
Thaksin was ousted by the Thai military on Sept. 19, 2006. He was abroad during the coup and has since lived in exile, mostly in London. He is legally barred from office, the courts dissolved his Thai Rak Thai Party, and he has been charged with corruption-related crimes.
The pro-Thaksin PPP campaigned on the pledge to bring him back into Thailand's political scene.
The billionaire tycoon said he wants to return to Thailand to face the allegations against him and prove he is innocent. "I'm sure I can prove my innocence as all the allegations are empty," said Thaksin.
He said mid-February, after a new government is formed, he would start "exploring options" for a return.
"I have to wait until the situation in Thailand allows me to return. The first priority is that I am not the center of any new conflict," he said. "I also have to make sure that it is safe for me and my family."
Thaksin said, however, he will not resume his political career.
"I really want to go back as a normal citizen ... Enough is enough for politics," he said.
However, when asked if he would be willing to act as an adviser to the PPP, Thaksin said, "If they want my opinion and ideas, then I will give it to them."
The PPP won nearly half the seats in the parliament's 480-member lower house _ a powerful message that Thaksin's mostly rural supporters would be happy to see him back despite allegations he was corrupt.
"I appreciate the Thai people who always think of me and want to see the policies implemented by me brought back," Thaksin said.
Less happy to see Thaksin return would be his deposers _ the military, Bangkok's educated middle class, and the country's elite, including elements associated with the monarchy.
All had felt threatened by Thaksin's accumulation of power, attained through an unprecedented absolute majority in the country's parliament.
Thaksin admitted that perhaps he may have made some mistakes while in office. "Perhaps I was too confident; I didn't spend enough time with my family and friends."
But he defended his methods of governing, saying some people took offense because he was "too decisive."
Rumors had swirled that the military might carry out a new coup if faced with the prospect of a Thaksin comeback _ but the ousted leader said he thought it was unlikely.
"I believe that those who ousted me will not be involved in any new intervention. We are all Thai. We know each other well. I have even sent them a message that I want to play golf with them when I go back."
Thaksin said he would return to England just after Christmas to watch his soccer team Manchester City play, but then would go "back and forth" to Hong Kong.


Updated : 2021-05-06 22:07 GMT+08:00