Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra insists the fans of Manchester City have taken him to their hearts after his purchase of the English Premiership soccer club. Fans even call him 'Frank', he said in Hong Kong yesterday, explaining that in their struggles to pronounce his family name they prefer to call him Sinatra instead. The nickname is fitting. Thaksin is showing he can sing up a political storm himself as he embarks on his latest adventure after losing power in a coup last September. The billionaire tycoon's takeover of Manchester City was completed on Friday and looks set to raise his profile in soccer-mad Thailand, across Asia and in Britain, where he has spent much of his time in self-exile. Even his choice of manager - controversial former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson - appears intended to ensure maximum publicity. All up, Thaksin and Manchester City promises to be one of the stories of the new soccer season, which kicks off next month. Thaksin has said he will attend as many games as he can as he takes his place among the ranks of high-profile club-owning tycoons, such as Chelsea's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich. The spotlight that will shine on Thaksin only raises the stakes for Thailand's military-installed interim government, which faces a crucial few months, with debate on a new constitution likely to be heated and with ousted Thaksin loyalists still agitating. The junta which ended Thaksin's six-year rule in a bloodless coup took power in dubious circumstances, for all the excesses of Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party, which had an unprecedented grip on political power and which has been linked to political and financial corruption and human rights abuses. Early on, the generals were given the benefit of the doubt both inside and outside the country. But their honeymoon is long over. Only by restoring Thailand to fully democratic civilian rule, backed by a workable new constitution, will they ensure that the damage to one of the region's most proudly free nations is limited. The interim government must also ensure that court proceedings against Thaksin and his wife on corruption-related charges - part of a drive to remove him from power for good - are just, transparent and lawful. So, too, must be any steps it takes to limit the political influence of restive members of Thai Rak Thai, which was formally dissolved by court order in late May after being found to have breached electoral laws. The interim government has struggled to unite Thais and take steps to create a stronger democracy. Recent events suggest it is again in the driving seat, even if Thaksin is showing he will not be going away any time soon. Last week a military-backed commission approved the final draft of a new constitution - billed as an anti-Thaksin document - that seeks to limit prime ministerial powers and introduce stronger checks and balances on a ruling government. It replaces a 1997 constitution intended finally to rid Thailand of 'money politics' but which critics said was exploited by Thaksin to dominate even supposedly independent parts of government. Critics say the new draft risks a return to the shaky coalition governments of the past. The challenge now is to get it through a national referendum in August so elections can be held later in the year. Only then can Thailand's political leaders work to ensure the country's coup-plagued history is put in the past for good.