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Thailand's Thaksin Would Welcome Amnesty But Denies Political Ambition

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra talks to members of the press in Podgorica, Montenegro (File Photo)

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says he would like to come back to Thailand if his sister wins elections in early July, but that he has not decided whether he would stay in the country.

Interviewed by Radio Australia at his luxury home in Dubai, Mr. Thaksin said he has no ambition to return to political power and finds it convenient to run his international business empire from the Persian Gulf nation.

But he said he would like to visit at the end of this year to pay respects to the king on his 84th birthday. He said if conditions permitted him to stay in Thailand, he would like to lecture, play golf and give advice to his children.

Mr. Thaksin, who faces a two-year jail term on corruption charges if he returns to Thailand, also said he would welcome an amnesty from the next government, but that it is more important to restore unity in the country.

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin Shinawatra's sister
Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin Shinawatra's sister

Mr. Thaksin's Puea Thai party has nominated his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as its candidate for prime minister. Mr. Thaksin said that based on recent polls, he is confident that she is ahead of the incumbent prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He said he continues to advise the party, and that he taught and trained his sister. He said her working habits are nearly exactly the same as his own and that, if elected, she would promote the same policies he would.

Mr. Thaksin, who remains popular with many working class and rural Thais, was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006. He claims the corruption charges against him were politically motivated.