Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra to return home after 15 years in exile

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thailand's thaksin shinawatra to return home after 15 years in exile

As Thailand struggles to name a new prime minister, one of the most controversial former holders of the job, Thaksin Shinawatra, plans to get back home in August following years of self-imposed exile, his daughter Paetongtarn has confirmed in a Facebook post.

His August 10 return comes at a politically sensitive time for the country as the Pheu Thai party, considered the main vehicle for his political interests, is seeking enough support in Parliament to make one of its leaders the new prime minister.

Thaksin’s daughter is one of the political party’s three candidates who can be nominated to become the next leader. Earlier this month, the Senate blocked the nominee from the progressive Move Forward Party from winning the job. He was the top finisher in May’s election.

Thaksin’s Planned Return And Possible Prison Sentence

Billionaire populist Thaksin was elected prime minister in 2001 and easily re-elected in 2005. But a military coup in 2006 ousted the leader from his post. He faced serious accusations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespecting the monarchy.

He decided to flee the country in 2008 to escape a prison term, decrying the criminal cases against him as politically motivated. Nevertheless, the former leader could still be held behind bars for over a decade on his return home.

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Delay Linked To Royalist Concerns

Pita Limjaroenrat from the Move Forward Party was the first nominee considered by parliament as prime minister. He pulled together an eight-party coalition that holds 312 seats in the 500-member lower house. But Pita couldn’t grab a majority vote from the 250-member Senate.

The delay in naming the next leader is related to royalist concerns as members of the Senate said they would not vote for Pita owing to his party’s links to a reform of a law that makes it illegal to defame the country’s royal family, carrying a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

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