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Thaksin confirms he is returning to Thailand, says he will stay out of politics

Thaksin confirms he is returning to Thailand, says he will stay out of politics

Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra confirmed he will return to Thailand on Thursday and face corruption and conflict of interest charges. He also vowed to stay out of politics forever.
Critics, however, fear the billionaire's homecoming could plunge the country back into political crisis.
Speaking to journalists in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Thaksin, who was ousted in a September 2006 military coup, said he wants to lead a normal life and be with his family, and vowed to stay out of politics.
"I quit politics already. No more, no more prime minister," he said while dining at a Chinese restaurant with about 40 supporters.
Smiling and looking happy, he said he was "excited" about returning to Thailand.
He called the corruption and conflict of interest charges "unjust, unfair allegations" and said "I have to get myself bail."
Thaksin said the charges were "cooked up by my political enemies" and he would fight them in court.
But he added he harbors some concern for his safety.
"I am, and my relatives are, worried about my security. So my schedule in Thailand is not fixed by me but by people around me," Thaksin said.
Supamas Isarapakdi, a top aide to new Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, said he was not sure whether Thaksin would stay at home or in a hotel after he arrives because of safety concerns.
Thaksin will be greeted at the airport by senior officials in Thailand's new government and other "people who love him," officials said.
Thaksin has lived abroad since the coup and government officials say they plan to welcome him with open arms.
"I ordered the Airport Authority of Thailand to prepare the VIP rooms ... and I myself will be on hand to greet him," Transport Minister Santi Prompat told reporters.
"I will be there as the old friend ... who promised voters that if they chose the People's Power Party we would bring Thaksin back with full honors," said Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobambrung, a longtime Thaksin ally.
The PPP, which is packed with Thaksin allies, won Dec. 23 general elections and now leads a six-party coalition government. The polls were the first since the military ousted Thaksin for alleged corruption and abuse of power.
Prime Minister Samak, who heads the PPP, won widespread support by campaigning as Thaksin's proxy and pledging to clear his name.
Thaksin and his wife Pojaman face corruption and conflict of interest charges in connection with her purchase of prime Bangkok real estate from a state agency in 2003, while he was prime minister. Pojaman returned to Thailand in January and was released on bail pending trial.
Thaksin, a former telecommunications magnate, also faces separate charges of concealing assets.
Police will detain Thaksin on arrival and "they have to bring him to court," Rakkiat Wattapong, the Supreme Court secretary-general, said Wednesday.
The chief of Thaksin's legal defense team, Pichit Chuenban, said Thaksin would surrender to police and seek bail.
An anti-Thaksin group has said it will mobilize protesters if the government intervenes in the legal process against him.
Thaksin supporters have said they will arrange transportation for hundreds of people to welcome him at the airport, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.
Thaksin continues to be widely popular among the rural majority who benefited from his populist policies, such as cheap health care and low-interest loans. Their votes drove his former party to two big election victories, giving him an unprecedented parliamentary majority in 2005.
Rakkiat warned Thaksin's supporters they would be held in contempt of court if they cheer and shout and give him flowers in the court compound.
On Tuesday, Thaksin's Web site posted a picture of the deposed prime minister, with his right hand raised giving the victory sign, superimposed over an image of Bangkok's international airport as fireworks exploded overhead. It urged supporters to greet Thaksin at the airport at 9 a.m. Thursday.
"Welcome home Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom we love, miss and have been waiting to return for over a year," the Web site said in Thai.
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On the Net:
http://www.hi-thaksin.net


Updated : 2021-08-05 00:33 GMT+08:00