A Thai court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges, accusing the fugitive leader of fomenting two months of unrest in Bangkok that left 88 people dead.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and later fled abroad after a corruption conviction, has been accused by the Government of being a key force behind protests by the so-called Red Shirts, who seized areas of downtown Bangkok before being overcome by Army troops last week.

Thaksin, now based in Dubai, is regarded as a hero by many Red Shirts, mostly rural and urban poor who benefited from his populist policies.

He has been charged with corruption and abuse of power during his 2001-2006 tenure as Prime Minister.