Thaksin denies he will return for Songkran

Thaksin denies he will return for Songkran

Govt, red shirts, play down Kwanchai vision

Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra denies plans are afoot by a red-shirt leader to bring him back to Thailand during the Songkran holidays.

Thaksin did not deny his intention to return from self-exile eventually but said he would not return in the way set out by red shirt Kwanchai Praipana.

"I have no clue," he said in a telephone interview. "That's his idea. That's the way he is. He gets carried away with what he thinks and he always thinks it out loud."

The former premier said his comeback would depend on timing and the political situation in Thailand but added: "It will not be the way Mr Kwanchai has said."

The leader of the red shirts in Udon Thani came out of a meeting of key leaders in 20 northeastern provinces in Khon Kaen on Monday, saying they planned to bring back their political idol to Thailand across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai.

He would return after celebrating the traditional New Year festival in Laos, he claimed.

"Pol Col Thaksin will return as a hero with 40,000-50,000 red shirts in Nong Khai and Bung Kan waiting to greet him at the bridge," Mr Kwanchai said.

A Lao government source said his government knew nothing about Thaksin's plans other than what it read in the media.

Thaksin visited the old Lao capital of Luang Prabang early this year to make merit.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship co-leaders and members of the ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday criticised Mr Kwanchai for his remarks.

Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader and Pheu Thai Party list MP, said any plan to bring back Thaksin now could endanger the government.

"I just met him and he did not show any rush to return. He understands the political situation," Mr Jatuporn said.

Korkaew Pikulthong, another leading red shirt, also dismissed Mr Kwanchai's remarks.

As soon as Thaksin stepped on to Thai soil, police could take him into detention.

Thaksin, who was convicted of abuse of authority in relation to a land deal, would not be able to just walk free.

Thaksin was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail in 2008 for abuse of his authority when he was prime minister for helping his then-wife, Potjaman na Pombejra, win a bid for a plot of prime land on Ratchadaphisek Road.

"Mr Kwanchai should be patient. The reconciliation process is under way. Once it is complete, Col Pol Thaksin will come back with pride," Mr Korkaew said.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul agreed with Mr Korkaew, saying Thaksin must come back with dignity and through the appropriate channels.

Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat said Thaksin supporters should ignore what Mr Kwanchai had said. "'Don't let what one person has said spoil the broth," he said.

Mr Kwanchai said yesterday he was not speaking on behalf of any red shirt co-leaders in Bangkok.

He said many red shirt core members are now part of the government and live in luxury while the movement's supporters live in poverty. Some had gone broke after five years of participating in red-shirt campaigns, he said.

Mr Kwanchai said he wanted to help Thaksin come home because he wanted to seek justice for him.

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