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06BANGKOK1248 THAI POLITICAL PARTIES DIG IN AND BRACE FOR THE WEEKEND

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“54911”,”3/2/2006 0:06″,”06BANGKOK1248″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“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 001248

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/01/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, Protest/Demonstration, Thai Prime Minister

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL PARTIES DIG IN AND BRACE FOR THE

WEEKEND

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Both sides dug in deeper on March 1.

Thaksin insisted that he will not resign, snap elections will

be held on April 2, and he will hold his own rally this

Friday at Sanam Luang to kickoff his election bid.

Opposition party leaders did not waiver (publicly) from their

threat to boycott the election if the PM does not resign by

Sunday–the day of the next People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD) rally. Preparations for the April 2 vote are under

way; March 3 will be the last day that the opposition can

reverse its boycott and register. Absent real news, the

local press spun yesterday\’s lunch between the PM and top

military leaders–designed to highlight military support for

him–into a series of speculative stories, prompting the

military\’s Supreme Commander to reaffirm publicly the

military\’s neutrality. As fortune would have it, the

Ambassador is hosting dinner this evening for Thai Army

Commander GEN Sonthi; ranking members of Sonthi\’s staff and

members of the Country Team will also be present. Meanwhile,

preparations for the election continue, but that is only

one–albeit important–piece of the political drama that is

playing out daily. End Summary.

 

RETURN TO DEFIANT FORM

———————-

 

2. (SBU) The embattled Prime Minister returned to form late

on February 28, dismissing calls for his resignation and

instead announcing that he and his supporters will hold their

own rally at Sanam Luang on March 3, only two days before the

opposition is scheduled to hold their own gathering at the

same location. Thaksin dropped the conciliatory tone he had

adopted earlier in the day when he had suggested delaying the

election, telling reporters that the opposition should

\”forget about making me resign…I\’ll speak my mind on March

3…I\’ll tell all.\” Thaksin dismissed further negotiations

with the opposition parties, saying \”I have tried my best but

they would not cooperate.\”

 

3. (SBU) The usually fractious opposition remained united

into March 1. Despite rumors that Thaksin and his Thai Rak

Thai party had offered significant enticements to Chat Thai

leader Banharn Silapa-Archa (whose propensity for cash

politics lent him the name \”Walking ATM\” in the 1990s),

Banharn and the leaders of the Democrat and Mahachon parties

reiterated their intent to boycott the election unless

Thaksin resigns by March 5.

 

PREPARATIONS FOR THE ELECTION ON TRACK

————————————–

 

4. (SBU) Following the opposition\’s insistence on a boycott,

the Election Commission began its efforts to set up the April

2 vote. Registration for the 100 party-list seats is open

March 2-3, with registration for the 400 constituency seats

open from March 4-8. A party must register for the

party-list seat vote in order to run for a constituency seat,

however, making Friday, March 3 the effective drop-dead date

for the opposition to reverse its stance and join in the

election–if it is held April 2.

 

PRESS STIRS THE RUMOR POT

————————-

 

5. (C) In a bid to dispel rumors of fading military support

for his leadership, Thaksin lunched with top military

commanders February 28. The plan backfired. Several local

papers reported March 1 that Army Commander General Sonthi

Boonyaratklin had warned the PM that he should resign for the

good of the country. Supreme Commander Gen. Ruengroj

Mahasaranond attempted to set the record straight later on

March 1, telling reporters that \”There will be no (military

involvement in a change of government)…the situation is

still going well.\” According to Embassy contacts, the author

of the initial, detailed (unattributable) article on the

story probably was the wife of a senior military official who

has written articles critical of Thaksin in the past.

 

6. (C) Reporters also ushered in a new round of speculation

that the PM would resign, citing unconfirmed reports that

Thaksin had asked for a meeting with Privy Councillor

Chairman Prem Tinsulanonda also today. A Thai Rak Thai

spokesman quickly denied this rumor, followed by the PM

himself. \”I will be…prime minister until the election is

done and a new government formed.\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) As things stand now, the historic ground at Sanam

Luang will witness dueling political rallies this coming

weekend. Both sides can be expected to mobilize large

numbers. We\’re keeping a close eye on March 3–the deadline

for the opposition parties to register in time for the April

2 election.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:19 am

Posted in Confidential, Election

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