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06BANGKOK1346 BANGKOK READIES ITSELF FOR TWO OPPOSING WEEKEND POLITICAL RALLIES

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“55178”,”3/3/2006 11:44″,”06BANGKOK1346″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1301″,

“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 001346

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/03/2015

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, Political Parties, Protest/Demonstration, SNAP Elections, Thai Prime Minister, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: BANGKOK READIES ITSELF FOR TWO OPPOSING WEEKEND

POLITICAL RALLIES

 

REF: BANGKOK 01301

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. Two large political rallies are scheduled to

take place in Bangkok\’s Sanam Luang royal plaza over the

weekend. On March 3, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and

his Thai Rak Thai party are preparing to mobilize 200-300

thousand supporters, including many who will be brought in

from outlying provinces, to listen to the Prime Minister\’s

explanation for calling for new elections. The People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD) plans to hold another

anti-Thaksin rally on March 5. There are concerns that

remnants of the Thaksin supporters might clash with PAD

supporters at the Sunday night rally. Ambassador and other

Embassy officials have conveyed concern about potential

violence to leaders of both sides; although we have received

encouraging assurances that both sides are committed to

peaceful methods, there is potential for conflict. Party

registration ended on March 3 for the April 2 elections. Thai

Rak Thai was the only major party to register candidates,

alongside six smaller parties. Singapore sources have told

us that Singapore is contemplating pulling out of the Shin

Corp deal. END SUMMARY.

 

RALLIES SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY AND SUNDAY

 

2. (C) All eyes will be on Bangkok\’s politically charged

Sanam Luang royal plaza this weekend as Prime Minister

Thaksin Shinawatra and the People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD) mobilize their supporters to show up in large numbers

at opposing rallies on Friday and Sunday. First up will be

the Prime Minister and his Thai Rak Thai party which predict

that between 200 and 300 thousand supporters will show up

from all over Thailand to listen to the PM \”bare his heart\”

and discuss his reasons for dissolving parliament and holding

new elections. The Prime Minister is also expected to roundly

condemn the three major opposition parties for sticking to

their decision to boycott the national elections, currently

scheduled to be held on April 2. TRT officials say their

rally should end around 10 in the evening. Arsa Sarasin, the

King\’s Principal Private Secretary, told the Ambassador that

the Prime Minister had assured the King that his speech would

be positive and calm. Crowds began arriving in the early

afternoon of March 3, including hundreds of vans arriving

from the up-country provinces, Thaksin\’s main base of

support.

 

3. (C) The Democrat Party canceled their scheduled Saturday

rally, although they planned to hold two anti-Thaksin

demonstrations in the southern provinces of Pattani and

Satun. The PAD plans to hold another rally in Sanam Luang on

Sunday, March 5, which coincides with the \”deadline\” they

have given the Prime Minister to resign. There is some

concern that remnants of the pro-Thaksin rally could clash

with participants from the Sunday rally. There are also

concerns that the Sunday crowd might move on to Government

House or another location if the deadline expires without a

resignation. A Royal Thai Navy Admiral (and prep school

classmate of Thaksin) told the DCM on March 2 that the

situation will be harder to control if the protesters leave

Sanam Luang. He added that the unstable political situation

\”can\’t go on forever\” and that things would have to be

settled well before June, when Thailand will celebrate the

60th anniversary of the King\’s accession to the throne. A

number of foreign dignitaries are expected to visit Thailand

at that time.

 

EMBASSY OFFICIALS CONVEY CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL VIOLENCE

 

4. (C) Embassy officers have consistently urged RTG officials

and protest leaders to keep demonstrations peaceful. On

March 3, Ambassador Boyce reiterated this message to Foreign

Minister Kantathi as well as a senior adviser to the Prime

Minister. Both officials agreed and told the Ambassador that

the RTG had no interest in provoking a conflict. PolCouns

relayed similar concerns to a senior PAD representative, who

assured her that the PAD was aware of the need to keep things

peaceful and avoid confrontation.

 

PARTIES IN PLAY

 

5. (U) With the Democrat, Chart Thai and Matichon parties

planning to stay at home on election day, Thai Rak Thai is

certain to dominate any election, possibly winning all 500

seats in Parliament — assuming the election actually takes

place. Opposition parties had until today to register their

party lists to participate in the April election. They did

not. Other than TRT, only six relatively insignificant or

unknown parties successfully handed in their paperwork. The

most well-known of these is the Prachakorn Thai Party, led by

the controversial ex-governor of Bangkok, Samak Sundaravej.

Prachakorn Thai plans to contest parliamentary seats in all

400 nationwide constituencies. While the vast majority of

these candidates probably have little chance of winning,

their participation is significant because Thai law has

different rules for winning elections in which a candidate

runs unopposed (Reftel A). At the registration site March

2-3, some followers of the smaller parties waved TRT banners

alongside those of their own parties. At least three other

small parties which had reportedly been interested in

registering were not among those announced on Friday.

 

PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN TELLS BOYCOTTING PARTIES TO GO TO BURMA

 

6. (U) During an appearance at the National Stadium to

officially register TRT for the April election, Prime

Minister criticized the three boycotting opposition parties

and said that they should take a lesson from imprisoned

Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who was clearly

\”dying to have an election in Burma.\”

 

SHIN CORP DEAL IN TROUBLE?

 

7. (C) Post has heard repeated rumors, including from the

Singapore DATT (Strictly Protect) that the Singapore

Government (GOS) is increasingly uncomfortable with the

negative publicity associated with the deal between Shin Corp

and the state-owned Temasek company and that GOS may consider

canceling the deal with Shin Corp. This represents a shift

in sentiment. As recently as February 8, a Singapore Poloff

told us at a reception that Singapore was prepared to weather

the negative publicity behind the deal.

 

BANGKOK STILL LIKES THAKSIN BUT DO THEY TRUST HIM?

 

8. (U) Bangkok is universally cited as the primary source of

opposition to the ruling Thai Rak Thai party. However, a

poll published by the well-regarded Assumption University

recently revealed that a plurality of Bangkok voters- 44

percent- would vote for TRT in the upcoming election, versus

30 percent who would not. 57 percent said that they would

vote in the upcoming election despite the opposition\’s call

for a boycott, versus 25 percent who were unsure and 18

percent who said they would honor the boycott. When asked if

the poll would be \”free and fair\”, fully half of respondents

said they were not or not quite confident that they would be.

 

9. (C) COMMENT. No one really expects trouble at the

pro-Thaksin rally this evening– a huge gathering that will

be covered fully by the Thai media and which will be used by

the embattled PM to bolster his case that the real opposition

to him is confined to disgruntled pockets of the Bangkok

elite. The key on Sunday will be whether the peaceful nature

of the anti-Thaksin protests will continue to hold. We have

been very forthright about the need to avoid violence and

have received encouraging reassurances from all quarters.

That being said, there is some nervousness about Sunday and

beyond. END COMMENT.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:29 am

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