Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can return to Thailand if he wants, but must wait until political tension eases following last month’s military coup, the country’s new leader has said.
Thaksin was in New York for the UN general Assembly when military leaders seized power. He has not returned to Thailand since the September 19 coup, opting to stay in London, where he owns an apartment.
Interim prime minister Surayud Chulanont told reporters late on Saturday October 14 that he had spoken with Thaksin, but did not give the date of their conversation. He said authorities would have to see when would be the right time for Thaksin to return.
“If he wants to come back, that’s his right, but I have to talk to other sides involved,” Surayud said. “What’s most important is to see if the situation in the country has eased and if it’s appropriate for him to come back.”
Coup leaders have said that the military intervened and seized power last month because intelligence showed the likelihood of imminent, violent clashes between Thaksin’s supporters and opponents in Bangkok.
Despite Thaksin’s popularity with the poor, he was almost universally opposed by the country’s elite, who accused him of widespread corruption and abuse of power. Massive anti-Thaksin rallies were staged in Bangkok for several months earlier this year.