The new Thai government said on Friday that it would welcome deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (pictrued above) back to the country but that it would not interfere in the corruption case against him.
Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said he would even be on hand at the airport to greet Thaksin and urged him to return home as soon as possible.
“It is better that he come back soon. If he came tomorrow or the next couple of days, it would be the best,” Chalerm told reporters at the government house before the first Cabinet meeting.
“I will be on hand at the airport to greet him myself and we will protect him,” Chalerm told reporters. “I can arrange the best team for him overnight.”
Thaksin’s wife Pojamarn Shinawatra told a court last month that her husband will return to Thailand as early as April to fight charges in court.
Thaksin and his wife face corruption and conflict of interest charges in connection with her purchase of land bought from a state agency in 2003. Thaksin also faces charges of concealing assets in a separate case.
Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said Thaksin will have to fight charges in court without help from government.
“As the justice minister, I will not interfere in the case,” Sompong said. “He has to fight the charges in court.”
Thaksin’s 2006 downfall came after months of demonstrations demanding he step down because of alleged corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin was abroad at the time he was ousted, and he now lives mostly in London. After his allies won the December elections and since formed the new government, he said he planned to return to Thailand.
Those involved in toppling Thaksin sought to dismantle his political legacy. After the coup, Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party was disbanded by court order. He and his party’s other 110 executive members were barred from public office for five years, and Thaksin faces several corruption-related charges.
However, a new party dominated by Thaksin loyalists won the most votes in last month’s parliamentary elections, the first since the coup.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Thaksin may get back his diplomatic passport, which had been revoked in January 2007. (AP)
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