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Deposed Thai PM Thaksin may return to politics

Thaksin Shinawatra will return home after martial law is lifted and may re-enter politics under a planned new Constitution.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 17:49 IST

Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now in Beijing, will return home after martial law is lifted and may re-enter politics under a planned new Constitution, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Noppadon Patama said the ousted billionaire telecom tycoon had flown to China from London, where he has been since the September 19 coup, to "rest and meet friends" and had no immediate plans to return to his homeland.

"He will return to Thailand when it is the right time, when martial law is lifted," Noppadon, a British-educated lawyer, told reporters.

"He will consider returning to politics when the constitution is written up."

Earlier on Thursday, coup leader and army chief Sondhi Boonyaratklin, who has made clear Thaksin would not be welcome in Thailand any time soon, said the issue of his return would be in the hands of the interim, army-appointed government.

"If he wants to come back to Thailand he has to contact the government, not the Council for National Security," Sondhi said.

Thailand remains under martial law, although there are few signs of the Council for National Security -- the body formed by the coup leaders who retain the power to fire the government -- enforcing bans on political gatherings and critical reporting.

The government has said many times it will lift martial law "as soon as possible" when "undercurrents" had been cleared.

Sondhi said the army was keeping a close eye on potential groups of Thaksin allies in provinces that might stage rallies against the post-coup government.   Continued...

"We are following them closely in various provinces where intelligence suggests they may stage protests, but we aren't so concerned," he said.

Thai media said this week that Thaksin planned to meet his successor, Surayud Chulanont, at a Southeast Asian leaders meeting in China, although Surayud and Chinese officials denied the reports.

Since booting Thaksin out in Thailand's 18th coup in 74 years of on-off democracy, Sondhi has admitted that the generals were struggling to come up with solid evidence to back up their claims of "rampant corruption" under his administration.

The army-appointed National Counter Corruption Commission was due to meet Sondhi on Thursday to update the military leaders on the progress of probes on 13 cased of alleged graft under the Thaksin government, commission chief Panthep Klanarongran said