Thaksin Says He’ll Return to Thailand, Stay Out of Politics

Dec. 25 (Bloomberg) — Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he’ll return to Thailand as early as February as a “normal citizen,” and will stay out of politics, after his allies won the country’s first election since last year’s coup.

“I definitely will go back to Thailand,” Thaksin said at a briefing in Hong Kong today. “I should not be the center of any new conflict, so I can assure you that I don’t want to go back into politics.”

The People Power Party, which campaigned under leader Samak Sundaravej on pledges to return Thaksin from exile and continue his policies, is seeking a coalition partner to form a government after winning the most seats in the Dec. 23 election. Thaksin was ousted in September 2006 after months of demonstrations in Bangkok by protesters who accused him of corruption. The former premier’s return may cause uncertainty and delay economic growth.

It “is seen as a negative,” said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank Pcl in Bangkok. “It rekindles the confrontation the two sides had before. It will raise uncertainties. People are going to be on edge.”

Still, Thaksin’s 5 1/2-year reign as prime minister was marked by the fastest growth in a decade. Consumer and business confidence in Thailand have languished under the military- installed government amid economic policy bungles and political squabbles. Economic growth was the slowest among six Southeast Asian nations in the third quarter. `Can’t Get Worse’

“The economic situation next year will be better as it can’t get any worse,” Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, chief economist at SCB Securities Ltd., said in an interview. “We already hit the bottom this year. Whoever will become the government, they are quite clear they will be business-friendly and try to boost the economy. The only problem is whether they can really do what they say.

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai, or Thais Love Thais, party won a record 377 of 500 parliamentary seats in 2005. In May this year, a nine-judge tribunal appointed by the junta that ousted Thaksin said TRT broke laws in a snap election last year. The judges imposed five-year political bans on 111 executives of Thai Rak Thai, including Thaksin.

The People Power Party, led by Samak, 72, was formed by TRT executives who weren’t banned. Thaksin, in Hong Kong, called for national reconciliation and pledged to help Thailand as a “normal citizen.”

“I hope that Dec. 23 should be the beginning of the reconciliation efforts by every party concerned,” he said. “If I can come back as a normal citizen, I can do a lot for the people of the country without  

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