x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Exiled Thaksin cheers sister’s election victory in Thailand

Former prime minister of Thailand currently living in Dubai glad to see win by his sister's democratic party but said he has no plans to end his exile and return home.

DUBAI // Exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he was glad that polls showed Thailand voters had opted for democracy, but said he had no plans to return to his country immediately.

"I feel proud that the people of Thailand have come out for democracy," Mr Thaksin, 61, told The National in Dubai, the emirate where he has lived for the past few years after his overthrow in a military coup in 2006.

"They made every effort to support democracy. We are still monitoring the counting of the ballots," he said after exit polls showed that the Puea Thai party, led by his charismatic sister, Yingluck, had won by a landslide victory.

"She deserves it. She works hard. She also really loves the people," he said about his sister, adding that he had spoken to her earlier in the day.

Mr Thaksin, however, said he had no immediate plans to return to Thailand, ending his self-imposed exile to avoid a jail term on corruption charges.

"I really want to go but it depends on the reconciliation. I don't want to go back and be a part of the problem. I want to be the solution. If I can be a part of the solution, I will go back," he said.

Mr Thaksin, who came to power in Thailand in 2001, said he planned to wait for a government-appointed commission to investigate last year's brutal crackdown by soldiers on his "Red Shirt" supporters in which more than 90 people died. Supporting reconciliation, he said, would be the new government's priority.

pkannan@thenational.ae