M. Continuo

Thailand's Thaksin heads home

By Dominic Whiting

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Ousted Thai Prime Minister ThaksinShinawatra headed home from exile on Thursday, swearing hewould stay out of politics and prove his innocence ofcorruption charges.

"No, enough is enough,", he told reporters at Hong Kongairport who asked whether he planned to re-enter politics 18months after he was ousted in a coup and just weeks after hissupporters formed a government following a general election.

Thaksin said before boarding a flight to Bangkok he waslooking forward to spending time with his family. "There is noplace like your homeland," he said after receiving flowers froman old Thai lady in the departure lounge.

However, 10,000 people were expected to greet him atBangkok airport, another expression of the general belief inThailand that Thaksin is back in control, albeit from behindthe scenes.

It was the support for Thaksin in the countryside and amongurban workers that carried the People Power Party led by SamakSundaravej to near an overall majority in the December electionand they expect Thaksin to be the man making decisions.

"We will have two prime ministers working at the same time-- one officially and the other unofficially," ChulalongkornUniversity political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak said.

The generals who ousted him in a bloodless 2006 coup,accusing Thaksin of presiding over rampant corruption anddisrespecting revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, have beenundermined by the inept government they installed.

But most analysts expect a renewed battle between Thaksin,the military and the royalist establishment for control ofThailand's future.

Thaksin -- his party dissolved after the coup and himselfbarred from politics for five years for electoral fraud -- willstill have to fight one corruption charge and possibly more.

Thaksin was to surrender himself to police at Bangkokairport, then go to the Supreme Court to seek bail on thecorruption charge relating to his wife's purchase of a primepiece of Bangkok real estate while in office.

He said he expected to be found innocent.

"Thailand is a democracy now. You are innocent until provenguilty," adding he expected to be in Britain by March 16 towatch his English Premier League team Manchester City play.

Asked if he was worried about his personal safety, Thaksinsaid some, but not much. "Thai people are peaceful," he said.

However, The Nation newspaper said that rather than go tohis home, Thaksin had booked an entire floor of a riversidehotel to ensure security for himself and his family.

(Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Michael Battye)