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Deposed Thai PM to Return Home Thursday

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has confirmed that he will return to Bangkok this week, and pledged to stay out of politics forever.

Mr. Thaksin is expected to surrender to police at the airport Thursday when he returns after 17 months in exile. He has told reporters he is coming home because Thailand has returned to democracy.

His supporters say they will also be at the airport to welcome him home, as a message on his Web site has urged them to do.

Mr. Thaksin is facing corruption charges in connection with a real estate purchase. The charges were filed after he was ousted from office in September 2006 by a bloodless military coup.

Mr. Thaksin says he is innocent and vows to clear his name.

The probability of Mr. Thaksin's return to Thailand has increased since the People's Power Party, which is packed with allies of the former prime minister, won general elections last December.

Mr. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party was disbanded after the military coup, and the PPP became his party's political heir. More than 100 members of the Thai Rak Thai party, including Mr. Thaksin, have been banned from politics for five years.

Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej says he will work to lift a political ban against Mr. Thaksin, but will not interfere in the corruption case against him.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.