Thaksin to return to Thailand

Bangkok, February 26:

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will return home from self-imposed exile on Thursday for the first time since his overthrow in a military coup in September 2006, his lawyer said on Tuesday.On his arrival, Thaksin would surrender to the police to face corruption charges, attorney Pichit Chuenban told Thai television. But his legal problems have been overshadowed by the victory in parliamentary elections of the People Power Party, which is viewed as his proxy and now dominates the coalition government. A website dedicated to Thaksin claimed he would return to a hero’s welcome.

Thaksin, who has retained his popularity with much of the population since his overthrow, will face criminal charges of corruption and abuse of power.

His wife Pojamon, who faces similar corruption charges, was smoothly bailed out when she returned home a month ago, in what was seen as a test run for Thaksin’s return.

The pair is accused of abusing privileged positions when in power to buy a huge swath of land in central Bangkok from a government agency. Thaksin is also accused of hiding assets. Analysts said it was not clear to what extent the powers that distrust Thaksin in the military, the older elites and in the palace would tolerate a resurgent Thaksin.

The Election Commission ruled Tuesday that the deputy leader of the PPP was guilty of buying votes in the election. Yongyuth Tiyapairat will be ousted from parliament if the Supreme Court confirms the ruling. This also threatens the party itself, which is technically liable for any election fraud carried out by its leaders.