May 12, 2015 / 12:43 PM / in 3 years

Thai coup leader unfazed by ousted PM Thaksin's planned public appearance

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s fugitive former prime-minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, will make a rare public appearance at a leadership conference in South Korea this month, when “not everyone will believe what he says”, according to coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) and her son Supasek Amornchat (R) gesture in a traditional greeting to the media as they arrive at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Thaksin has made little comment in public or on social media on Thai politics since the military toppled the remnants of the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, his younger sister, a year ago.

“Grandpa was invited to speak in Korea on May 19,” Thaksin said in a caption under a picture of his grandchildren on his Instagram account. The organizers of the conference said Thaksin had confirmed he would speak.

Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth said he was “not worried” about Thaksin’s appearance.

“If he speaks to other countries, the entire world should know what is true and what is not,” Prayuth told reporters. “Not everyone will believe what he says. For better or worse, everyone can judge for themselves.”

The military ousted Thaksin in 2006, exacerbating a sharp divide between his supporters in the poorer north and northeast and the traditional royalist-military establishment in the capital and the south.

A decade of political strife has seen at times violent street protests from both Thaksin supporters and their opponents.

Yingluck was removed from office days before the army staged the 2014 coup after months of protests in Bangkok.

Thaksin lives abroad to avoid a jail sentence handed down for graft in 2008.

Reporting By Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Simon Webb and Nick Macfie

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