Thailand's prodigal premier returns to hero's welcome (video)

(dpa) - Coup-ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra returned to a hero's welcome Thursday at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, where he got down on his knees to greet his homeland in front of thousands of Thais who had gathered to meet him.        

Thaksin arrived at 9:40 a.m. on Thai Airways International (THAI) flight 603 from Hong Kong, ending 17 months he spent abroad in self-exile after being toppled by a military coup on September 19, 2006, on charges of corruption, dividing the nation and undermining the country's democratic institutions and the monarchy.

Thaksin, 59, knelt on his knees and raised his hands in a wai, the traditional greeting, bowing his head to the ground, upon leaving the airport terminal.

About 4,000 people had gathered outside the arrival terminal waving posters reading "Welcome Home," "We Love Thaksin" and "You are the Best Prime Minister."

Several government ministers including Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and senior Buddhist monks were also at the airport to welcome back the former premier, along with 200 motorcycle taxi drivers, a special interest group that has supported Thaksin since he legalized their service in the capital.      

There were an estimated 600 police at the airport to provide security for Thaksin and keep the peace.

Although Thaksin has retained his popularity, especially among Thailand's rural and urban poor, he remains a divisive figure with many detractors among the political elite and Bangkok-based middle class who were at the core of an anti-Thaksin movement that started in early 2006 and eventually ended in the military coup that brought him down.

Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire who introduced populist politics to Thailand, winning a massive following among the poor, has repeatedly vowed not to reenter politics.

"I want to be an ordinary citizen," Thaksin told Thai reporters in Hong Kong before boarding his flight. "I want everyone to know that I have stopped politics."

Thaksin said his priority upon returning to Thailand was to face several court cases accusing him of corruption and abuse of power during his six years as prime minister from 2001-06.

"My duty is to defend myself against these unjust charges," Thaksin said.

Thaksin's lawyer, Pichit Chernban, said the time was ripe for his client to return because democracy had been restored to Thailand and the evidence was in place to defend him.

Thailand, which was under a military-appointed interim government for 15 months after the coup, held a general election on December 23, 2007, that brought the pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) to power, paving the way for the former premier's safe return.      

After his arrival, Thaksin and his entourage went immediately to the Supreme Court, which granted him an 8 million baht (250,000 dollars) bail on the condition he not leave the country without seeking the court's permission.

Thaksin faced an arrest warrant in Thailand, issued last year to pressure him to return to face charges that he abused his authority in 2003 by allowing his wife to bid on a 24-million-dollar plot of land at a government auction.

After the Supreme Court Thaksin visited the attorney general's office where he was granted bail on another case that he concealed his assets while in office.  

Thaksin was scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon at the posh Peninsula Hotel, where he and his family have taken up residence, reportedly for security reasons.

Several ships and related facilities to be launched in Iranian ports
Several ships and related facilities to be launched in Iranian ports
Kazakhstan increases imports of Iran-made goods
Kazakhstan increases imports of Iran-made goods
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price fell
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price fell
Loading Bars
Turkmenistan considers promoting expansion of partnership opportunities within ECO
Hungary eyes increasing medicines supply to Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani PM expresses condolences to Turkish VP over helicopter crash
Azerbaijan's Minister of Economy highlights country's progress in terms of economic freedom
Australia resumes postal communication with Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan holds auction for public property facilities
Volkswagen core brand to accelerate electric vehicle shift
Kazakh airlines launch new flight to Uzbekistan
Uzbekneftegaz, Gazprombank co-op to increase hydrocarbon production
Investment in development of Chabahar Port continues
Britain starts formal countdown in 'final chapter' of Libor
Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Maritime India Summit-2021 celebrates ‘Chabahar Day’
Egyptair to replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv - Cairo route
US experts visit war-torn areas of Azerbaijan's Tartar (PHOTOS)
Three possible scenarios on economic dev't regarding COVID-19 crisis in Georgia
Kazakhstan reports increase in overall 2020 trade with Greece
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Small solar photovoltaic station launched in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Kazakh National Bank shares data on money transfers via payment systems for 2020
Azerbaijan's Internet provider increases contribution to country's educational sphere
PASHA Bank talks possible development of 'neo-banks', information security in Azerbaijan
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
Azerbaijan to study underground water resources through satellite images
Kazakhstan discloses target volume of electricity generation for 2021
Fidelity Investments Inc acquires shares of Bank of Georgia
Deposits dev’t of Turkmenistan’s Uzynada field to increase oil, gas condensate production
Kazakhstan's only lowcoster launching direct flights to Turkey
Azerbaijan names amount of compensations paid to closed banks' depositors
Georgia reports 390 new COVID-19 cases for March 5
Russia documents 11,024 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
Turkmenistan plans to drill new wells at North Goturdepe field
Public catering turnover for January 2021 in Baku drops
Kazakhstan to commission several new petrochemical plants
Kazakhstan preparing concept for further Kashagan field dev't
Uniper increases natural gas sales
Uniper sees €160 million increase in adjusted net income y-o-y
International Fund for Agricultural Development helping Georgia modernize agriculture sector
Uzkimyosanoat, Shell talk modernization of Uzbekistan’s chemical enterprises
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender for electrical work services
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with China in 2020
President Ilham Aliyev delivers speech at congress of ruling party
With OPEC+ restraint in place during April, upward pressure on prices to continue
President Aliyev sends condolences to President Erdogan regarding helicopter crash
Uzbekistan, Belarus agree on increasing permits for road transport of goods for 2021
Rosselkhoznadzor allows number of Uzbek companies to import tomatoes to Russia
Saipem to take part in green hydrogen hub creation in Italy
Kazakhstan announces 2021 oil production plans
Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Azerbaijan shares footage from Fuzuli's Yukhary Rafadinli village (VIDEO)
US congressman Steve Cohen issues statement on Khojaly tragedy's anniversary
Kazakhstan to start partial sales of petroleum products through commodity exchanges
Turkmenistan defines tasks for "Single Window for export-import operations"
Kazakhstan to increase oil extraction volumes within OPEC+ agreement
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil opens tender for wells servicing
Azerbaijan's Aghdam - now huge field of ruins, BBC report says (VIDEO)
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Uzbek chemical production company to buy technological equipment via tender
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Creator of Tukish 'Bayraktar' UAV talks General, who died in helicopter crash
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 5
Ceyhan terminal transships over 36 million tons of ACG oil since early 2021
Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Azerbaijani FM extends condolences to Turkey over helicopter crash
Kazakhstan eyes to strengthen interaction with int'l financial organizations
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology plans to implement projects in liberated territories
Azerbaijan records growth in Jan.2021 lending to agricultural sector
Turkmenistan's Balkan region opens tender for recreation center construction
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 daily case count stands at 857
Turkey reports 11,322 new COVID-19 cases
Official says satisfied with results of human trial of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine
WHO Europe hopeful Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Georgia in coming weeks
Azerbaijani defense minister expresses condolences to Turkish side
China sets modest GDP growth target as economy improves
Kazakhstan may take part in restoration of Azerbaijani liberated lands
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Tonga evacuate people over tsunami threat
6.5-magnitude quake hits Kermadec Islands region
Uzbek and Belarusian experts to exchange experience in standardization
Italy reports nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 cases as some see "third wave"
5.9-magnitude quake jolts central Greece, no injuries reported
Georgian Railway expects to refinance Eurobonds
UK records another 6,573 coronavirus cases, 242 deaths
Azerbaijan agrees to continue existing oil production cuts in April (PHOTO)
7.3-magnitude quake hits waters off New Zealand
Armenia can also benefit from regional transportation projects if behaves in normal way - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan becomes one of Eurasia's main and reliable transportation, logistics hub - President Aliyev
We invite ECO member states to benefit from “Zangazur corridor” - President of Azerbaijan
We condemn unequal, unfair distribution of vaccines among developing and developed countries - President Aliyev
Now we are looking into future - President Aliyev
Military victory over Armenia on battlefield was also fully accomplished by political ways - President Aliyev
Stronger Turkey is, stronger is Azerbaijan and all its partners - President Aliyev
IAEA chief: Technical meeting with Iran to be held in April
WHO praises Georgia for curbing Covid-19
Belarusian BELAVIA airlines operating one-way flights on Baku-Minsk route
Macron to spare Paris region from weekend lockdown, for now
Kazakhstan determines priorities of foreign policy
Compliance services become more relevant in Azerbaijan - PASHA Bank
Several servicemen killed in military helicopter crash in Turkey
All news