Abhisit, a 44-year-old Oxford-educated economist, was voted into office by parliament after his party came in second in 2008 elections. He promised to restore political stability to Thailand after a series of short-lived administrations linked to Thaksin, who was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006. Thailand has had four heads of state and one interim military government since then.
Thaksin, a telecom billionaire, is in hiding from a two-year prison term for corruption. The Thai media have been awash in rumors of alleged sightings in Cambodia, the United Arab Emirates, and Africa. Last year, Britain revoked Thaksin's visa and, more recently, a consortium of Bangkok businesspeople offered a reward for anyone who could bring him back to face justice.