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Shinawatra arrested, charged after return from years-long exile

Shinawatra arrested, charged after return from years-long exile

When Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand after a 15-year self-imposed exile, he was promptly detained and brought before a court.

According to Thailand’s Khaosod Media and Thai PBS, Thaksin, who gained his fortune in the telecoms industry, boarded a private plane in Singapore and arrived at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport shortly after 9am (02:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
Upon his arrival, Thaksin paid his respects to the monarch before being driven in a police convoy to the Supreme Court, where he was accused of abuse of power and numerous other unresolved crimes that he has characterized as politically motivated.

Daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra shared a picture of the family and the caption, “Welcome back to Thailand daddy,” along with the statement that he had “entered the legal process” on Instagram. According to police, he will be transported to a prison in Bangkok, according to Reuters.

Thaksin rose to power in 2001 on a populist platform that catered to rural Thais who the country’s ruling elites had long ignored. Five years later, he was easily re-elected, but in September 2006, while Thaksin was traveling to New York to give a speech to the UN, the military overthrew him.
After being found guilty of abuse of power, Thaksin fled the country in 2008 and spent the majority of his time in Dubai.

Since the coup in 2006, Thailand has experienced political unrest, with both pro-Thaksin and opposing pro-establishment supporters going to the streets amid a cycle of elections and coups.

Near the VIP terminal, a sizable crowd of “red shirts” (the grassroots rural movement founded to support Thaksin’s government following the 2006 coup) had assembled to await his arrival.
They danced and applauded as his plane touched down in a festive setting complete with food and the mo Lam music of Isaan, the family’s stronghold in the rice-bowl northeast.

Many people carried signs that read “Welcome back, Thaksin,” and others chanted “Welcome back, Prime Minister.”

Many people found it difficult to speak without crying as they expressed their love for Thaksin, especially for improving their economic situation after years of neglect from Bangkok’s successive governments.

Among Thaksin’s accomplishments were village clinics, start-up financing, and a universal healthcare program that provided nearly free treatment for fundamental illnesses to tens of millions of poor people for the first time.

Ankana Nattakit, a 63-year-old from Nakon Ratchasima, told Al Jazeera that “he has always helped making our lives better.” “No previous prime minister has contributed to us quite as much. He serves as the people’s grassroots prime minister.

Vote for a new PM.

The most recent iteration of Thaksin’s party, Pheu Thai, finished second in the May elections.

After the progressive Move Forward Party, which won the election, was unable to form a government because military-appointed senators in the upper house refused to support it, Pheu Thai put together a coalition of parties, including those with military backing.
Later on Tuesday, a vote might elect Srettha Thavisin, a property mogul and member of the party, as prime minister.

Srettha has the support of 314 lawmakers in the lower house, but she still needs 58 more votes to win the position, which necessitates the support of a majority in both houses.
It is unclear how Thaksin, who continues to be a contentious political figure, may be impacted if Pheu Thai is successful.

According to Wissanu Krea-ngam, the deputy prime minister of the departing military-affiliated government, Thaksin would be qualified to apply for a pardon and might be given preferential treatment due of his advanced age.

Even though they disagreed with Pheu Thai’s choice to collaborate with the parties supported by the military, some of the “red shirts” claimed to understand the reasoning behind it.

Chawalwit Parachai, 29, who was in the gathering outside the terminal, said, “I’m okay as long as Thailand moves forward with someone from Pheu Thai as PM.”

Before he could personally thank his followers, the police took Thaksin away, but while he was being driven to court, the signs along the road praising his return would have served as a reminder of the respect in which he is still held by many despite having been away for so long.

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