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08BANGKOK3143 THAI PRIME MINISTER SOMCHAI DISREGARDS ARMY COMMANDER’S SUGGESTION HE RESIGN

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“174150”,”10/17/2008 10:20″,”08BANGKOK3143″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

 

“08BANGKOK3071|08BANGKOK3119″,”VZCZCXRO7993

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DE RUEHBK #3143/01 2911020

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O 171020Z OCT 08

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4739

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RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003143

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER, LAN TRUONG

PACOM PLEASE PASS AMB. JOHN, A/S HILL, DAS MARCIEL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2018

TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, ASEC, CASC, MOPS, TH

SUBJECT: THAI PRIME MINISTER SOMCHAI DISREGARDS ARMY

COMMANDER\’S SUGGESTION HE RESIGN

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 3119 (NO COUP)

B. BANGKOK 3071 (OCTOBER 10 UPDATE)

 

BANGKOK 00003143 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Charge d\’Affaires, a.i. James F. Entwistle, reason: 1.4

(b, d).

 

SUMMARY AND COMMENT

——————-

 

1. (C) Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on October 17

declined to resign, called for public unity in advance of

upcoming events of national importance, and he called for the

public to await an independent commission\’s report on the

violent confrontation between police and protesters on

October 7. Somchai\’s press conference followed Army

Commander Anupong Paojinda\’s public remarks on October 16

that Somchai should resign to take responsibility for the

October 7 clash. A close Thaksin associate told the Charge

d\’Affaires that no benefit would ensue were Somchai to

resign; this contact implied the Queen was trying to create

conditions conducive to a coup. A palace official associated

with the Queen hinted at significant developments to come.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters held a peaceful rally

in central Bangkok on the morning of October 17.

 

2. (C) Comment: Somchai made his public remarks in a modest

and non-confrontational manner. Nevertheless, he clearly

indicated his intent to allow appropriate procedures to run

their course and to disregard Anupong\’s suggestion that he

resign. Anupong may have hoped he could ameliorate the

current polarized political environment by nudging Somchai

from office. With Somchai refusing to step down, the key

questions looking forward appear to be whether the People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will attempt to precipitate more

violence, how much harder royalist associates are willing to

push, and whether Anupong will continue to resist pressures

to drag the military back into politics. End Summary and

Comment.

 

PM NOT STEPPING DOWN, CALLS FOR UNITY

————————————-

 

3. (SBU) Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, flanked by leading

members of the governing coalition, held a press conference

on the afternoon of October 17 to explain his perspective on

recent events in the wake of calls by military leaders for

him to resign. Somchai stressed that the constitution

obliged him to present his administration\’s policies at the

parliament, and it was in order to facilitate this

requirement that the police had confronted protesters

blocking access to the parliament on October 7. Somchai

explained that an independent commission was investigating

the clash, and it was important to await the results of the

commission\’s work. Noting that his administration consisted

of democratically elected representatives of the people,

Somchai called for national unity in advance of important

upcoming events, including the upcoming funeral ceremonies

for the King\’s elder sister (mid-November), celebrations of

the King\’s birthday (early December), and the ASEAN summit

(mid December). Somchai said the best way forward would be

to proceed with constitutional reform, indicating new

elections could take place after amendment.

 

ANUPONG SUGGESTED GOVERNMENT RESIGNATION

—————————————-

 

4.\”, S]xQctober

7 violent clash between PAD protesters and police: \”If the

government orders (police use of force that appeared

excessive), it must take responsibility. This (statement) is

not meant to pressure the government, but someone has to show

responsibility. No one can stay in a pool of blood.\”

Anupong went on to say that, were he the current Prime

 

BANGKOK 00003143 002.2 OF 002

 

Minister, he would resign.

 

THAKSIN INSIDER: NO POINT IN SOMCHAI QUITTING

———————————————

 

5. (C) Charge spoke with Thaksin loyalist Yongyuth

Tiyapairath on October 17. Yongyuth stressed there was

nothing to be gained from PM Somchai resigning in the face of

pressure from his critics, as this step would not resolve the

social conflict in Thailand. Charge asked whether Yongyuth

anticipated a military coup. Yongyuth vaguely implied that

Queen Sirikit was trying to create an environment conducive

to such an event, but stated that no one wanted a coup.

Yongyuth recommended, as Somchai did, waiting for the results

of the investigation into the events of October 7.

 

ROYALIST HINTS AT DRAMA TO COME

——————————-

 

6. (C) Anuporn Kashemsant, a foreign liaison officer for the

Queen in the Principal Private Secretary\’s office, remarked

to us October 17 that various political maneuvers were

ongoing. He said \”a coup like what happened September 19,

2006 is not one of the options\” for resolving Thailand\’s

political crisis, because the military had proven it was

incapable of running the country. His qualification evoked

the remark of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun on

October 16 (ref A) to Charge that there would not be \”a coup

in the traditional sense of the word.\” Anuporn hinted that

significant developments likely would take place in the

coming days, but refused to predict what might occur, beyond

saying there were two possible paths forward.

 

ANTI-GOVERNMENT RALLY

———————

 

7. (SBU) Members of the PAD held an anti-government rally in

central Bangkok on the morning of October 17, handing out

VCDs and booklets charging the police with having \”killed the

people\” on October 7. We observed the rally, which was

peaceful and at times festive. Very few police officials

were in close proximity to the demonstration, although they

told us riot police stood in reserve nearby. The police and

protesters showed no sign of antagonism. Police estimated

the crowd size at 500-600.

ENTWISTLE

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Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 3:08 am

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