BANGKOK - Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a hugely controversial figure at the heart of the kingdom's bitter political divide, said Tuesday that the imposition of martial law must not "destroy" democracy.
"The declaration of martial law is expected.... however I hope no party will violate human rights and further destroy democracy," the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, said on Twitter.
Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since 2008 to avoid jail for a corruption conviction that he says was politically motivated.
He is at the epicentre of the nation's political crisis, which broadly pits Thaksin's mostly rural and working-class supporters from the north and northeast, against the Bangkok-based establishment and royalist allies from the south.
Thaksin's sister Yingluck was ousted as premier by a controversial Thai court ruling on May 7.
Thaksin-led or aligned parties have won every Thai election since 2001.
A general election called by Yingluck in February was annulled by the nation's Constitutional Court after opposition protesters disrupted voting.
The demonstrators want the caretaker government swept from power and a new premier appointed to oversee vaguely-defined reforms aimed at curbing Thaksin's influence.
They see the former telecoms magnate as corrupt and a threat to the nation's revered king.