Wed, Feb 04, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Ousted Thai prime minister vows to political comeback

AFP , BANGKOK

Thailand’s exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vowed to pursue his political fight and said he was ready to return to the prime minister’s post he was ousted from in 2006, Thai media reported yesterday.

Speaking by telephone to supporters in the northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima Province on Monday, Thaksin was reported in Thai and English-language press as saying he would fight to clear his name as corruption cases stack up.

“I earlier announced that I would wash my hands of politics,” Thaksin was quoted as saying in the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper.

“But there are so many politically motivated cases being filed against me. I want to tell you now that I am ready to return to the political arena once again,” he said from an undisclosed location abroad.

“I will fight on no matter what happens. I’m ready to be prime minister again if people support me,” Thaksin said.

Thaksin was toppled in a September 2006 coup, with the military claiming that corruption and abuse of power under his two terms as prime minister had damaged the country, and they also questioned his loyalty to the revered monarchy.

The tycoon-turned-politician has spent most of his time since the coup in self-imposed exile, and was last October sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power linked to a 2003 land deal.

Other corruption cases against him are moving through the courts.

Despite his absence, Thaksin remains enormously popular in rural Thailand and his allies won the first post-coup elections in December 2007.

But a court dissolved the Thaksin-linked ruling party on Dec. 2 after six months of anti-government protests by his opponents in a royalist group, who paralyzed Bangkok’s airports for a week late last year.

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