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.
The timing: It’s fishy for sure. Thaksin’s return came just as the Pheu Thai Party he founded did a once-unthinkable thing: after recent elections, the party agreed to lead a coalition that includes pro-military parties that were once Thaksin’s bitter enemies. The decision effectively shut out the progressive Move Forward Party, which actually won the elections on a groundswell of youth support.
The speculation: Did Pheu Thai do a deal with the military junta in which it buried the hatchet in exchange for Thaksin’s return and pardon? Keep a close eye on what happens in the next few days. The king has a decision to make, and millions of Move Forward supporters may yet show their anger on the streets. If he’s denied the pardon, he will need to wait two years, presumably in jail, before asking again.