Thailand: Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s fugitive former prime minister, returned to the country on Tuesday from 17 years of self-exile. The historic homecoming aligns with an attempt by his political allies to form a new government with some of its biggest rivals, news agency Reuters reported.
74-year-old Thaksin, the fugitive figurehead of the populist movement Pheu Thai, appeared briefly with family members at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport and greeted a crowd of supporters before bowing to a portrait of Thailand’s king.
On a social media post, his sister Yingluck said, “The day my brother has waited for has arrived”.
“For the past 17 years, you feel isolated, lonely, troubled and missing home but you persevered,” Yingluck, who also lives n self-exile, said in the post.
He was prime minister from 2001 until he was ousted in a military coup in 2006 while he was attending a UN meeting in New York. Military had toppled him alleging corruption and disloyalty to the monarchy, which he has vehemently refuted, reported Reuters.
Two years later, in 2008, he fled abroad to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power.
As per the agency, police said that he would be arrested and taken directly to the Supreme Court for a hearing, before being transferred to a prison.
Thaksin’s arrival came as the lower house and military-appointed Senate was convening to vote on prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin, a real estate mogul thrust into politics by Pheu Thai just a few months ago.
Taking to social media platform X, Srettha wrote, “Congratulations to the Shinawatra family and former PM Thaksin. Returning to your place of birth with your family, there is no greater happiness.”
Thailand has been under a caretaker government since March and its new parliament has been deadlocked for weeks after anti-establishment election winners Move Forward were blocked by conservative lawmakers, leaving heavyweight Pheu Thai to lead a new effort, according to Reuters.
Having emerged victorious in five elections during the last twenty years, Pheu Thai, a political juggernaut founded by the billionaire Shinawatra family, has entered into a controversial alliance including two parties supported by a military that orchestrated coups in 2006 and 2014, overthrowing governments helmed by Thaksin and his sister Yingluck.