x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ex-Thai leader Thaksin, exiled in UAE, says he will not return to power

Fugitive billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra tells reporters outside his Emirates Hills home that he is not looking for a return to power after his sister won election as prime minister in a landslide victory.

DUBAI // The exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra today said he did not want to be the premier again after the opposition Pheu Thai party — led by his charismatic sister, Yingluck — toppled the ruling party in yesterday's elections.

"I don't want to be prime minister," Mr Shinawatra, 62, told reporters outside his plush Emirates Hills home in Dubai.

"When my youngest sister became prime minister, it is not for my generation anymore...I may be too old. I have been with the party for too long. I want to retire," he said.

The fugitive billionaire, who was charged with corruption and was overthrown in 2006, said he was in no "hurry" to return to his country, but did not rule out the possibility of playing adviser to the new government.

"The concern is trying to bring back the unity. Going back home is not a top priority," he said, adding, "I am ready to go back if it were to be part of the solution for reconciliation."

He said he was confident of his American educated sister's ability to steer the nation towards democracy and reconciliation, despite criticism over her lack of political experience.

"My sister will be leading the country and the party. I am proud of her and trust her," he said, adding, "The Thai people will be in good hands."

pkannan@thenational.ae