It endured its worst violence in recent memory last spring when Thaksin’s red-shirted supporters poured into the streets of Bangkok to demand elections and protest the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and stayed there for almost two months.
Thaksin, a former billionaire businessman, distanced himself Thursday from direct involvement in any political movement.
“They really planned to lock me out of Thailand and don’t want me to go back.” The challenge for any leader is bridging the enormous economic and political gulf between rural Thais and the Bangkok elite, said Peter Vandergeest, who teaches at York University’s Centre for Asian Research. Thaksin agrees.“Thais are really peaceful,” he said. “They have to have a solution so that the people of Thailand can live together and no division.”