Thaksin Shinawatra on his way back to Thailand after years-long exile

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By Webdesk

Supporters gather at airport to welcome home former prime minister who was removed in a 2006 military coup.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is on his way back to Thailand after nearly 17 years in exile.

Thaksin boarded a private plane in Singapore and was on his way to Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport, his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, also a former prime minister, posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

Thaksin, who made his fortune in the telecommunications business, is expected to arrive in Bangkok at about 9am (02:00 GMT) local time. Supporters, dressed in red, began gathering at the airport early on Tuesday to welcome him home.

The tycoon swept to power in 2001 on a populist platform that appealed to rural Thais. He was returned in a landslide five years later, but in September 2006, when Thaksin was in New York preparing to address the United Nations, the military seized power.

With Thaksin in exile, Thailand was plunged into political turmoil with pro-Thaksin and rival pro-establishment supporters taking to the streets.

The country has since been through a cycle of elections and coups, with dozens killed in bloody crackdowns on street protests.

Pheu Thai, the latest incarnation of Thaksin’s party, came second in elections held in May.

After the progressive Move Forward was unable to form a government because military-appointed senators in the upper house refused to support it, Pheu Thai cobbled together a grouping of parties, including those backed by the military.

A vote will be held later on Tuesday that could lead to the party’s Srettha Thavisin, a property tycoon, becoming prime minister.

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