Thaksin makes plans to end exile

Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed Thai prime minister, said he was considering a return to Thailand to fight corruption charges against him early in 2008 as politicians loyal to him said they had secured sufficient parliamentary support to form a new government.

At a Christmas day press conference in Hong Kong, Mr Thaksin, a billionaire former telecommunications tycoon exiled since a September 2006 military coup, said he had no intention of seeking political office.

But he said he was willing to serve as an adviser to the People’s Power party, which on Wednesday saidit had forged alliances with three smaller parties to form a government when the new parliament is convened in late January.

“I really want to go back as a normal citizen. Enough is enough for politics,” he said. He was banned from politics for five years, along with 110 other Thai Rak Thai leaders when the party was dissolved in May.

The PPP, home of Thaksin loyalists, emerged from elections on Sunday as the largest party with 233 seats, just short of a majority in the 480-seat legislature. The three smaller parties said they would bring an additional 21 seats. Surapong Suebwonglee, PPP secretary- general, said he hoped two other parties – which between them have 61 seats – wouldjoin the alliance.

However, an official of one of the parties said to have already aligned with the PPP said he was not sure any agreement had been reached. “Nothing is clear and negotiations are ongoing,” he said.

Officials from several other parties told the Financial Times the situation was likely to remain fluid until the Election Commission reviewed allegations of misconduct by winning candidates, which could lead to disqualifications.

Already three PPP winners have received “yellow cards” and must stand in a revote on January 13.

The Democrat party, which emerged as the second largest party with 165 seats, has refused to concede defeat, instead declaring its intention to form a government should the PPP be unable to secure sufficient allies.

Mr Thaksin said if he returned he would fight abuse of power charges stemming from a controversial land deal. “I am sure I can prove my innocence,” he said.

General Surayud Chulanont, the prime minister installed by the military, said he had “no problem” if Mr Thaksin wanted to return, but Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the retired army chief who led the coup, had vowed to press ahead with corruption investigations even if the PPP forms a government.

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