DUBAI (Reuters) - Former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Thursday “humbly” urged the country’s king to intervene to resolve its political rift, and called on his supporters to act peacefully.
The self-exiled Thaksin, ousted in a coup in 2006, told Reuters he lacked the resources to finance a comeback, although he would return to Thailand if “the country and the people really need me ... I want to be part of the solution.”
Thailand has been wracked by political violence in recent days, with “red shirt” supporters of Thaksin disrupting and forcing the cancellation of a major Asian summit over the weekend in the resort town of Pattaya.
Government forces and “red shirts” then squared off in the capital Bangkok, and there were also fights reported between residents and protesters.
At least two people were killed and more than 100 were injured in violent confrontations. Thaksin says 60 died.
“The instigation comes from the police,” he said.
Faced with overwhelming government force Tuesday, the pro-Thaksin forces backed down, but the underlying rift between urban, elite and middle class elements of Thai society who oppose Thaksin and his rural backers remains.
“I would humbly urge his majesty (to) come and help heal this rift,” Thaksin told Reuters in Dubai, one of several foreign cities he has been staying since leaving Thailand last year, under the threat of various legal charges.
Thaksin repeated accusations the government, not his followers, had instigated the violence. He claimed the “red shirt” protests had been infiltrated by troublemakers.
“I emphasize for them to be peaceful,” Thaksin said of his supporters.
Thaksin, who made millions from telecommunications before entering politics and is generally considered a billionaire, said his resources had been exaggerated and that while he had enough for everyday living and travel, he lacked the resources to finance a political comeback.
Thaksin’s considerable assets have been frozen in Thailand. This has forced him to use proceeds from the 2008 sale of Manchester City football club.
Thaksin said he had no assets parked in Britain but that he would use profits from the Manchester City sale to establish a telecommunications consulting business in one of Dubai’s many free economic zones.
Thaksin said he would leave Dubai soon, having stayed in the desert emirate for over a month already, traveling on a Nicaraguan diplomatic passport.
Writing by Jerry Norton; Editing by David Fox