New Thai premier urges Thaksin to return

Thailand’s new prime minister called Thursday for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra to return home to face justice and bring closure to months of political turmoil that has revolved around him.

Abhisit Vejjajiva made the comments a day after being sworn in as Thailand‘s third prime minister in four months.

By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer

Leader of Democrat Party and new Thailand's Prime Minsiter Abhisit ... 
Leader of Democrat Party and new Thailand’s Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva addresses media after receiving King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s command at party’s headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. Abhisit, the 44-year-old, Oxford-educated was voted by Parliament on Monday, promised Wednesday to put together a competent Cabinet to revive the country’s economy battered by months of violent anti-government protests.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, Pool)

Abhisit, a 44-year-old graduate of Oxford, is the first opponent of Thaksin to lead a civilian government in the past seven years. Thaksin, who took power in 2001, was ousted by a coup in 2006 but has nevertheless loomed over Thai politics since then.

A Thai court in October convicted Thaksin in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law while in office and sentenced him to two years in prison. There are several pending corruption cases against Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon.

“I want to see him back,” Abhisit told Channel 7 news. “If he comes back and fights in court and shows that all Thai people are equal, there will be a closure.”

“Thai society is merciful and forgiving, but first he has to show acceptance in the judicial process,” said Abhisit, who was scrambling to assemble a Cabinet capable of tackling the country’s economic and social problems.

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