06 August 2023 | 22:34 pm
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Saturday he had delayed his return to the kingdom next week, as he awaits a breakthrough in a post-election gridlock that could see his family’s party lead a coalition government.
The 74-year-old businessman, who won two elections before being overthrown in a military coup in 2006, has been in self-exile for 15 years and has long expressed a desire to return home despite being accused of crimes he claims are driven by politics.
Thaksin said on Saturday that he had postponed his departure because of a doctor’s visit.
He stated on Twitter, which was recently relaunched X, “I would like to postpone my return date to Thailand for not more than two weeks.
The Pheu Thai party’s second-place finisher in the poll, his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, revealed last month that her father will be arriving on August 10.
Thaksin’s return, a bogeyman for Thailand’s pro-military and royalist elite, could exacerbate an already volatile political environment.
The military-dominated Senate prevented the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), which won the most parliamentary seats in the May election, from becoming prime minister, resulting in a political impasse in the kingdom.
Property tycoon Srettha Thavisin is expected to be the Pheu Thai party’s choice for prime minister in its attempt to create a government.
The House Speaker has delayed the PM vote until after the August 16 judgement from the constitutional court.
Political analyst Napisa Waitoolkiat of Naresuan University said there had been recent talk of an alliance between Thaksin and the elite that would include pro-military groups.
According to her, “(the delay) means he got a signal that the deal is not made,” she told AFP.
Since 2001, Thaksin-affiliated parties have controlled Thai politics, but they have lost two prime ministers to military takeovers and another to a court decision.
Since 2008, Thaksin has been living in self-exile, primarily in Dubai. He frequently communicates with followers on the Clubhouse social media platform as Tony Woodsome.
In four criminal trials, one of which has since past the statute of limitations, he was found guilty while he was away from the country.
He is currently being investigated in another case while serving three further sentences totaling ten years.
Despite his long-standing belief that the cases were politically motivated, he declared in May that he was prepared to face justice.