Ex-PM Thaksin delays return to Thailand

By AFP   August 4, 2023 | 09:18 pm PT
Ex-PM Thaksin delays return to Thailand
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra looks on as he speaks to Reuters during an interview in Singapore, February 23, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su
Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Saturday he would delay by two weeks his return to the kingdom after 15 years of self-exile.

The 74-year-old billionaire, who won two elections but was ousted in a 2006 military coup, has long said that he wished to return home - but faces multiple criminal charges that he says are politically motivated.

On Saturday, Thaksin said that he would delay his scheduled return due to a medical appointment.

"I would like to postpone my return date to Thailand for not more than two weeks," he posted on Twitter, recently rebranded X.

His daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, 36, one of the prime-minister candidates for the Pheu Thai party, which came second in the election, announced last month that her father was due to arrive on August 10.

Parties linked to Thaksin have dominated Thai politics since 2001, but lost two prime ministers to military coups and another to a court ruling.

A bogeyman for Thailand's pro-military and royalist establishment, Thaksin's return has the potential to inflame an already tense political situation.

The kingdom is in political deadlock after the military-dominated Senate blocked the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP) from becoming prime minister after it won the most parliamentary seats in the May election.

Pheu Thai has since been trying to form a government, and property tycoon Srettha Thavisin is set to be its prime minister nominee.

The House speaker has pushed the date for a PM vote until after a constitutional court ruling on August 16.

Thaksin has lived in self-exile, mostly in Dubai, since 2008 and regularly addresses supporters on the Clubhouse social media platform using the alias Tony Woodsome.

He was convicted during his time abroad in four criminal cases, one of which has now passed the statute of limitations.

His sentences for the other three total 10 years, and he is still under investigation in another case.

In May, he said he was ready to face justice.

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