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Thaksin expected to return Thursday

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to return from exile on Thursday, 18 months after he was ousted in a bloodless 2006 coup, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said.

His comments on Tuesday came a day after an advertisement on urged his supporters to welcome "Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra: The One We Love & Miss For Years" at Bangkok airport at 0200 GMT on February 28. Noppadon, Thaksin's lawyer and spokesman during his exile in London and Hong Kong, said Thaksin was due to make a formal announcement later on Tuesday.

File photo of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra talking to reporters in Hong Kong, December 25, 2007. (REUTERS/Victor Fraile/Files)

"I think and I believe that Thaksin will return on the 28th," Noppadon told reporters in Bangkok.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who said he was a proxy for Thaksin during the campaign for a December election that returned Thailand to democracy, has said he would push for Thaksin's five-year ban from politics to be lifted.

Thaksin faces one corruption charge relating to his wife's purchase of a prime piece of Bangkok real estate while in office. He denies the charge.

His Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party was disbanded for electoral fraud after the coup and 111 senior party officials, Thaksin included, banned from politics for five years.

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