Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand living in self-imposed exile, is in the UAE and "planning to move onwards", the Thai consulate in Dubai confirmed yesterday. The confirmation ends days of speculation on the whereabouts of Mr Thaksin, who left Britain after his visa was revoked by UK authorities this month. The ex-prime minister was toppled in 2006 and is now facing a possible jail sentence in Thailand on tax evasion charges. Pasan Teparak, Thailand's consul general in Dubai, said: "He is in the UAE and is meeting some old friends and businessmen."
Mr Teparak said Mr Thaksin might be leaving Dubai soon but insisted the consulate did not know where he would be going. When questioned on possible plans for the former leader to base himself in Dubai or start a business here, the consul general said: "He is a private person and I have no information on his plans." Mr Teparak added the consulate was not even aware where Mr Shinawatra was staying. Mr Thaksin sold Manchester City Football Club to the Abu Dhabi United Group in September.
Mr Thaksin last week divorced his wife of 32 years, Potjaman Shinawatra, who also faces a jail sentence in Thailand for alleged tax evasion. The couple deny the charges, calling them politically motivated. Thai businessmen and representatives of the community in Dubai also confirmed Mr Thaksin was in the city and hoped they would have a chance to see the former leader. His political supporters in Dubai said he would leave in a few days.