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Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Reuters

Thaksin to Thai king: Pardon me?

Thailand’s billionaire former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has appealed to the country’s king for a pardon just days after being jailed upon his highly anticipated return to the country.

The background: In the early 2000s, Thaksin struck a populist chord to win a slew of elections, and was PM until he was ousted in a 2006 military coup that drove him into exile. Last week, he returned home for the first time since then, only to be jailed on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

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Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of Thailand's Move Forward Party, reacts after failing to win parliamentary support to become prime minister.

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Political trouble brews in the Land of Smiles

Late on Thursday, the Thai parliament rejected opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat's bid to become the country’s next prime minister. Pita, whose progressive Move Forward Party won the May 14 election, was 51 votes shy of the supermajority needed to clinch the premiership. (For more on that, read our explainer here.)

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Move Forward Party, Pheu Thai party, and coalition partner leaders sign an MOU in Bangkok, Thailand.

Vachira Vachira via Reuters Connect

Uncertain Thai premiership vote

On Monday, the Thai parliament will meet for the first time since the May 14 election to pick the next prime minister. Whoever gets the nod, some people won't be happy about it in a country with a checkered history of political turmoil: shaky governments, colorful protests, and military takeovers.

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Move Forward Party leader and Thai PM candidate Pita Limjaroenrat during the press conference of coalition parties in Bangkok.

Vachira Vachira via Reuters Connect

Election body probes Thai PM hopeful

On Monday, Thailand's electoral commission announced it is investigating whether PM frontrunner Pita Limjaroenrat was qualified to run in last month's general election.

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Thailand's dystopian election
Reuters

Thailand votes for change

Opposition parties won Thailand's general election, according to a provisional tally released Monday. It was a particularly good day for the progressive Move Forward Party, which promised to curb the power of the army and decentralize the country’s Byzantine bureaucracy. MFP now looks set to win at least 151 seats in the 500-seat lower house.

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Thailand's former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Not now, Thaksin!

We recently predicted that the shadow of self-exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra would loom large over the May 14 Thai election. Now the stakes just got a lot higher.

On Tuesday, Thaksin announced that he plans to return before his 74th birthday in July, almost 15 years after he skipped town when he was about to go on trial for corruption. Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, was ultimately convicted in absentia of several charges that add up to over a decade in prison.

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Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai party's prime ministerial candidate, at a campaign event in Bangkok.

REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

Thaksin’s shadow looms large over upcoming Thai election

Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra remains a powerful force in Thai politics 17 years after the military ousted the billionaire businessman from office and drove him out of the country. His party, Pheu Thai (or its predecessors), has won the largest number of seats in every election since 2001 with its populist appeals to the rural poor. But it has been twice ousted from power via military coups. In addition to Thaksin (Thais go by their given name), his sister Yingluck suffered a similar fate, in 2014.

Ahead of the May 14 elections for the House of Representatives, Pheu Thai is getting a fresh boost from the next generation: Thaksin’s daughter Paetongtarn, 36, has emerged as an energetic campaigner and one of the main contenders for prime minister. Yet Pheu Thai faces a battle obtaining the nation’s top job given the conservative establishment’s dominance of the political system.

We asked Eurasia Group expert Peter Mumford to explain why.

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Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, including militants, killed in an Israeli raid, during their funeral in Jenin

REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

What We’re Watching: West Bank violence, Czech election runoff, Thai coup jitters

After Jenin raid, Palestinian militants vow “revenge”

At least nine Palestinians were killed Thursday in Jenin in one of the deadliest West Bank operations in recent years carried out by the Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s military said it stormed the Jenin refugee camp to arrest members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad suspected of carrying out and planning “multiple major terror attacks.” Authorities confirmed that at least seven gunmen and two civilians were killed in the operation that also injured 20 Palestinians. While members of Israel’s new right-wing government have been criticized for wanting to relax the military’s rules of engagement, this raid was part of a long-running effort to root out terror groups in the northern West Bank, which began last year after a series of attacks that killed 31 Israelis – retaliatory missions notably led to more than 100 Palestinian deaths. Israel is now on high alert, fearing a slate of missile strikes from the Gaza Strip as well as unrest in the West Bank and Jerusalem after Palestinian terror outfits – including Hamas and PIJ – vowed “revenge.” Friday saw a limited exchange of Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes.

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