Asia-Pacific

Thailand's PM Abhisit warns against Thaksin return

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Media captionThai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva warns Mr Thaksin will be 'in control' if the opposition wins the election

Thailand's prime minister has warned the country may face renewed political instability if former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, returns from exile.

Abhisit Vejjajiva told the BBC that the next government should not "put one man's interest before the country's. It brings instability."

But in another BBC interview Mr Thaksin said he was useful to Thailand.

Thais go to polls on 3 July in a contest that Mr Abhisit's Democrat Party admits it could lose.

Since Mr Thaksin's ousting in a military coup five years ago, Thailand has been convulsed by political turbulence, largely focused around those who love him and those who hate him, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey.

Just over a year ago more than 90 people died in anti-government protests.

All recent opinion polls suggest Mr Abhisit's Democrat Party is trailing behind the main opposition Pheu Thai party - led by Mr Thaksin's younger sister Yingluck.

Critics say the party is in effect controlled by Mr Thaksin, who lives in exile in Dubai to avoid serving a prison sentence for a conflict of interest conviction.

"I give advice, I write the policy, because I have more experience than anyone else in the party, so I give advice to them," Mr Thaksin told the BBC.

He said he did not see why that should make his critics nervous.

"Why so nervous? I'm useful to the country," Mr Thaksin said.

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Media captionThaksin Shinawatra said his main concern was with the 'Thai country and people'

Mr Thaksin's opponents, including the incumbent prime minister, would strenuously rebuff that, our correspondent says.

'Incitement'

They fear that if the opposition comes to power, Mr Thaksin will be absolved of all past misdemeanours under an amnesty and return home triumphant.

In an interview with the BBC's Hardtalk programme, Mr Abhisit said Mr Thaksin had been "responsible for inciting the red-shirts" - opposition supporters involved in last year's deadly clashes with the military.

He said the opposition were campaigning on their connections with Mr Thaksin but urged the election winner not to "put Thaksin's interest before the people's and the country's".

"There are people who are willing to use violence and cause instability. I'll do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen, and I'm confident that... we'll prove ourselves to be resilient," Mr Abhisit said.

He insisted the decision of the Thai people would be respected, whoever won.

"It's for the Thai people to decide and come 3 July they will make that decision and we will all respect that decision - and I urge the red-shirts to do the same," Mr Abhisit said.