Thaksin’s homecoming a long way off

Even if his sister wins Sunday’s election, it is unlikely Thaksin Shinawatra will be jumping on the next plane out of Dubai.

So here we go. The talking is over. Let the voters have their say. Thailand’s much anticipated, and in some cases feared, general election is upon us.

It appears that negotiations between former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s people, the army and representatives of the palace about the result of the election and what seems a certain victory for Thaksin’s opposition party, Pheu Thai, have been taking place for several months.

What many people are incorrectly assuming, however, is that a deal has been reached. From what I’ve been hearing, negotiations continue.

Anyway, history tells us that deals and promises in Thai politics mean little.

If a deal is struck, someone will lose face. If Thaksin’s allowed to return to Thailand a free man, surely the army and those they represent will lose face, because they were the ones who removed him from office in the coup in 2006.

They have little choice other than to try to negotiate with a man who remains extremely popular in his homeland.

Any intervention in the electoral/democratic process designed to prevent Pheu Thai forming a government would be widely condemned domestically and internationally.

There would be an almost instant reaction from Thaksin’s supporters, many of whom have promised to return to the streets of the capital.

So does Thaksin hold all the power because his party’s seems headed for a big win?

Not yet. He’s in a very strong position but it could still come unstuck for him. We must keep a close eye on the courts if Pheu Thai forms the government.

The allegations of perjury against his sister and perhaps the next prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, refuse to go away. Despite being banned from politics, Thaksin is quite clearly running and funding the party and he now makes little effort to hide or deny that fact.

I’m sure the election commission will be asked to go over every minute detail of the party’s finances and Thaksin’s media interviews he’s conducted during the election campaign.

A Thaksin homecoming is likely to be a long way off. He would not jump on the next plane out of Dubai if his party is declared the winner.

The issue of amnesty for political offenses since the coup is likely to be put to a public vote in the form of a referendum and the definition of the term ‘political offenses’ is believed to be one of the key factors in the current negotiations.

Can corruption be a political offence?

This will be a fascinating and perhaps defining moment for Thailand. There will be many twists and turns over the coming days, weeks and months. Regardless of the outcome, everyone is hoping for peace to prevail.