After five years in exile, Thaksin plots return to Thailand

 

Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has told thousands of his supporters that he believes reconciliation is taking place in Thailand and that he could even return to the country in a matter of months.

At a rally in Cambodia attended by crowds of his supporters who travelled from Thailand for the event, the former premier sang, joked and talked about his painful homesickness. “There are signs of reconciliation. Everybody wants it. There are signs that I will be able to return home to stay with you,” he said, according to the Agence France-Presse. He said that this year’s celebrations for royal anniversaries in Thailand made it an “auspicious time”.

The twice-elected Mr Thaksin was forced from office in 2006 by a military coup, engineered by his opponents when he was out of the country. Subsequently convicted in absentia of corruption during his time in office and sentenced to two years in jail, he has since lived in exile, most recently in Dubai.

Mr Thaksin remains a deeply polarising figure in Thailand. While he has widespread support among the rural and urban poor who benefited from a series of populist measures he enacted while in office – sufficient to elect two allies as prime minister after his ousting – he is deeply disliked by a coalition of urban middle-classes, military officers and the business elite.

But the victory in last year’s election by his Pheu Thai party that saw his younger sister Yingluck take office as prime minister has created an opportunity for the 62-year-old to return, almost certainly as part of broader amnesty linked to stumbling reconciliation efforts.

Mr Thaksin has never convincingly hidden his wish to return to Thailand. At an interview last year in Dubai where he talked about how he missed his children, he insisted he would not return if it created disruption. “I will not add any more problems for the country,” he said.

The administration of his sister has so far sought to avoid confrontation over many of the most controversial issues in Thai society and has been careful to stress that no special case can be made just for Mr Thaksin. On several occasions since Mr Thaksin’s ousting Thailand has been rocked by political violence, most recently in the spring of 2010 when more than 90 people were killed, almost all by the security forces.

Efforts to establish an agreement for an amnesty for all people facing politics-related convictions have been plagued by problems. The opposition Democrat party headed by former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has pulled out of a committee set-up to consider the issue and has recently warned of a “political tsunami” if Mr Thaksin’s crimes are “white-washed”. Observers have pointed out the irony that the committee is headed by former general Sonthi Boonyaratglin, a soldier-turned-politician who led the 2006 coup that forced Mr Thaksin from office.

The government appears keen to try and secure Mr Thaksin’s return at some point this year. A government adviser last month told The Independent that he would not be able to take up a political role. But he added: “Thai people all suffer from home-sickness.”

Mr Thaksin’s rally in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap followed a similar event in neighbouring Laos a day earlier and was held to mark the Buddhist new year. 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices