Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Thaksin hogs limelight as Thai PM struggles to shine

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BANGKOK: Thailand’s jet-setting, self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is carving out a more direct political role for himself in government led by his sister, a move that could rock a fragile peace in his deeply polarised country.

The billionaire who fled in 2008 before he was convicted in absentia of power abuse has spent the past week visiting Cambodia, Nepal and also Myanmar, smoothing the way, he says, for an official visit to the former Burma by his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

According to the Bangkok Post newspaper, Thaksin said he was in Myanmar last Thursday and met President Thein Sein and retired former military dictator Than Shwe, although a source close to the fugitive tycoon told Reuters the visit was personal and no high-level meetings took place.

Despite his overthrow in a 2006 coup and his self-exile in Dubai, Thaksin, 62, has never faded from the Thai political scene and the landslide election win for Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party in July has strengthened his hand.

He has been central to Thailand’s six-year colour-coded crisis, backing two ruling parties led by his allies and the main focus of crippling street protests in 2007 and 2008 by anti-Thaksin “yellow shirts” and bloody counter demonstrations by his “red shirt” supporters in 2009 and 2010. (Reuters)

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