Thaksin Shinawatra, (nicknamed Maew by the media)  is a Thai businessman who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was deposed in a military coup and convicted in absentia for a conflict of interest.

The Shinawatra government faced allegations of corruption, authoritarianism, treason, conflicts of interest, acting non-diplomatically, and muzzling of the press. Thaksin was accused of tax evasion, lèse majesté and selling national assets to international investors.  Independent bodies, including Amnesty International, criticized Thaksin’s human rights record.

Massive protests occurred in 2006, and on 19 September 2006 a military junta overthrew Thaksin’s government in a bloodless coup while he was abroad. The CNS (Cousil for National Security)-appointed constitutional tribunal dissolved the Thai Rak Thai party for electoral fraud, banning him and TRT’s executives from politics for five years. The CNS-appointed Assets Examination Committee froze 76 billion baht ($2.2 billion) of his assets in Thailand, claiming he had become unusually wealthy while in office.  Thaksin and his family have declared assets totaling 15.1 billion baht when he took office in 2001.

Thaksin returned to Thailand on 28 February 2008, after the TRT’s successor party won the post-coup elections. But after visiting Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, he did not return to hear charges and applied for asylum in the United Kingdom. In October, the Supreme Court found him guilty of a conflict of interest and sentenced him in absentia to 2 years in jail.  

In April 2009, Thaksin supported anti-government protests by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)  in their 2009 protests against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, demanding true democracy. Following violent clashes between the UDD and military forces in April 2009, Thaksin’s passport was revoked.


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