A supporter of Pheu Thai Party holds up a portrait of the former prime minister and founder of the party, Thaksin Shinawatra, while watching a television broadcast of the election vote counting after polls closed in the general election at the party's headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, 14 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Former Thai PM postpones return from exile amid political deadlock

Bangkok, Aug 5 (EFE).- Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living in self-exile to avoid facing prison terms handed to him by Thailand’s judiciary, has announced that he is postponing returning to his country by two weeks, amid an ongoing deadlock over the formation of the new government.

Pheu Thai Party’s prime ministerial candidates Paetongtarn Shinawatra (C) and Srettha Thavisin (L) and party leader Cholnan Srikaew (R) greet during an interview after the unofficial result of the general election at the party’s headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

On his Twitter account, the former PM said that the new dates of his return would be announced soon and claimed that the delay was due to the doctor requiring some physical checkups before his departure.

In late July, Thaksin’s family had announced that the leader would return to Thailand on Aug. 10.

This is not the first time that 74-year-old Thaksin – who ruled Thailand between 2001 and his ouster in a 2006 coup – has announced his return, only to suspend his plans later.

The leader has been living in Dubai for the past decade and faces up to 10 years in prison in Thailand after being convicted in his absence on multiple charges, claimed to be politically motivated by his supporters.

Thaksin’s return was announced at a time when Pheu Thai, a party that he led to power and whose prime ministerial aspirants include his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, was negotiating to form the government with an alliance of pro-democracy parties that won the May 14 elections.

However, subsequently the political situation in Thailand has changed rapidly amid a deadlock that has continued since the polls that saw the Move Forward party – opposed to the powerful military and favoring a reform in the lese-majeste law – winning the highest number of seats.

However, a post-poll coalition that included Pheu Thai failed to form a government after Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat was twice blocked from being elected as prime minister by opposition from the senate, an unelected chamber whose 250 members were chosen by the former military junta (2014-2019) after it reformed the constitution.

Both the 500 elected lower house members and the 250 handpicked senators participate in the prime minister’s selection.

Due to being blocked repeatedly, in late July Move Forward decided to cede the bid to form the government to its coalition partner Pheu Thai – the second largest party after the polls – and on Wednesday the latter announced an end to the alliance with Pita’s party.

Pheu Thai, which is set to nominate construction magnate Srettha Thavisin as its candidate for prime minister, was set to announce its new alliance on Thursday, but decided to postpone the event after the constitutional court agreed to hear a plea against Pita’s candidature being blocked.

The court is set to announce its decision on Aug. 16, which is expected to be followed by a new session of the parliament being convened to decide on government formation. EFE