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06BANGKOK1093 OPPOSITION PLANS FOR THAKSIN\’S OUSTER, TRANSITION

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“54003”,”2/23/2006 11:12″,”06BANGKOK1093″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1034|06BANGKOK538″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001093

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, TRT – Thai Rak Thai, Thai Prime Minister

SUBJECT: OPPOSITION PLANS FOR THAKSIN\’S OUSTER, TRANSITION

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 1034

B. BANGKOK 0538

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The NGO alliance organizing Sunday\’s massive

protest against Prime Minister Thaksin predicts a peaceful

and successful rally which will unseat the PM. They expect

the PM\’s ruling Thai Rak Thai party to crumble within several

months, leading to new elections before the end of the year.

This is a \”best-case\” scenario for the opposition, but it is

not an unrealistic prediction. Thaksin is in real trouble.

END SUMMARY

 

2. (C) Polcouns met February 22 with Pittaya Wongkul, head

of one of the NGOs in the \”Alliance to Defend the Country,\”

which is organizing Sunday\’s big protest rally against Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinnawatra. Pittaya reviewed the reason

why growing numbers of the public are opposed to Thaksin.

Like other observers, he recognized that the issues that had

animated NGO opposition to the PM, like press freedom, were

not so important to the general public. The Shin Corp sale

was the issue that was mobilizing the masses. They were

concerned about selling off a key asset to foreigners, and

they were angry about that Thaksin did not have to pay any

taxes on his enormous gains. Pittaya pointed out that the

authorities count the shirts for sale on the street vendor\’s

table, and the number of bowls of soup the noodle shop sells

in order to assess their taxes, but Thaksin will pay nothing

on his 1.8 billion dollar deal.

 

3. (C) Pittaya outlined the opposition plans for the

demonstration on Sunday. The Alliance members planned to

meet on February 23 to elect a steering committee for the

rally. Media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul, whose weekly

protests started the ball rolling, and \”Dharma Army\” General

Chamlong had pledged to work as part of a coalition with the

lesser-known NGOs in the Alliance. The steering committee

will make all the decisions on the rally, including a

determination on who would speak on Sunday. This rally

would not repeat the format of the previous protests, in

which Sondhi essentially did a version of his talk show,

dishing dirt on the PM and his family. Who turns up and who

speaks will be an important indicator of the scope of

opposition to Thaksin. We do not expect a final decision to

be made until the last minute.

 

4. (C) Pittaya confirmed that the opposition would not be

satisfied with the dissolution of Parliament; they would

insist on Thaksin\’s resignation. Pittaya expected Sunday\’s

demonstration to be very effective. A small part of the

demonstrators would camp out at the site (presumably led by

Chamlong, whose \”Dharma Army\” organization has experience in

staging days-long protests). Other participants would go to

their jobs during the day and return to the protest rally in

the evenings. He said that \”if they could get 200,000 to

300,000 people to turn out on Sunday\” then \”Thaksin would

resign within a couple of days.\” He predicted that other

members of Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party would not

support the dissolution of Parliament for their own selfish

reasons — they don\’t want to be out of a job and have to

campaign again in an uncertain environment. They will be

prepared to sacrifice Thaksin.

 

5. (C) Pittaya aid that the opposition was not terribly

concerned about who would step in as Prime Minister after

that. They presumed that one of the prominent TRT members

would take on the job. In any case, he predicted, TRT would

fall apart once Thaksin was gone. The Parliament would

remain for a couple of months, focusing on making some

changes to the Constitution as called for by many academics

and political figures, and would head into new elections

within six months. (Note: It is not yet clear exactly what

changes to the Constitution have broad support. However,

Pittaya probably has in mind measures to strengthen the

independence of institutions like the National

Counter-Corruption Commission, and changes to provisions that

make it virtually impossible for MPs to change parties. end

note.)

 

6. (C) Pittaya emphasized that the organizers do not expect

violence. They think that Thaksin supporters are

contributing to rumors of possible trouble in order to scare

people away from the protest. He said that the group was

working with local officials and would stay in touch with

police to avoid misunderstandings. The government

understand, Pittaya said, that the use of violence by

security forces would only galvanize opposition to Thaksin.

 

7. (C) Comment: Septel provides our analysis of the serious

challenge Thaksin faces. Pittaya\’s scenario reflects a

\”best-case\” outcome for the opposition, but it is not

completely unrealistic. It is notable that the plan does not

require any intervention by the King — it would simply allow

the legal and constitutional mechanisms to play out. End

Comment

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

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