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06BANGKOK1602 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: MARCH 15

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“56602″,”3/15/2006 11:32″,”06BANGKOK1602″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1602″,

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7203

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

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SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001602

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: MARCH 15

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Alex A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (

d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Thaksin\’s comments to the press have sparked

speculation that he might be considering stepping down, or

declaring a state of emergency. Neither will be attractive

to him, but his third option, winning the elections on April

2, is looking more problematic: the Electoral Commission is

expected to disqualify as many as 200 candidates, potentially

leading to a \”hung\” election. Pro-Thaksin demonstrators may

try to come into Bangkok, raising the possibility of a

confrontation with anti-Thaksin protesters. The police have

performed well and with restraint thus far, but fatigue is

becoming a problem for them. End summary.

 

HE\’S GOING

———-

 

2. (C) Thaksin\’s comments while on the campaign trail

upcountry are fueling fevered speculation in the capital.

While riding elephants and participating in arcane local

rituals during his campaign swing in provinces along the

Cambodian border, Thaksin told the press that a) he was

prepared to sign a decree introducing a state of emergency

and b) he might consider a proposal to take a temporary break

from being PM. According to a wire service report, he said,

\”This does not mean that I would bow to mob rule. I have to

take some time to consider and decide what to do, because I

have a duty to complete my mission.\” TV Viewers also note

that he referred to a Buddhist principle which advises

believers not to cling to that which is impermanent.

 

HE\’S NOT GOING

————–

 

3. (C) The Ambassador spoke today with key Thaksin advisor

Pansak Vinyaratn, and with Foreign Minister Kantathi about

the PM\’s statements. Both cautioned against reading too much

into the accounts in the press, saying that the PM had no

intention of stepping down. In a conversation with Privy

Councilor Surayud Chulanont, the Ambassador asked about the

reported threat to impose a state of emergency. Surayud noted

that Army Supreme Commander Sonthi had stated that he would

not intervene with the protesting crowds, as that would be

\”undemocratic.\” The Ambassador pointed out that the

government side knows violence would work against its

interests in the long run, whereas the protesters are led by

several individuals, such as Gen. Chamlong, who have a track

record of provoking violence. Surayud countered that those

individuals on the anti-Thaksin side would not want to engage

in a violent provocation unless they could reliably cover

their tracks, and that would be difficult under the current

circumstances. (Septel reports further on Surayud\’s views).

 

WHERE ARE THEY GOING?

———————

 

4. (C) The plans of two groups of pro-Thaksin farmers, from

the North and from the Northeast, are still uncertain.

Approximately 6,000 people, according to press reports, are

converging on Bangkok by bus and tractor. According to the

Highway Police, both groups are within a few hours drive of

Bangkok and may be planning to set up their own, pro-Thaksin

rally, at the Royal Plaza, which is uncomfortably close to

the anti-Thaksin sit-in at Government House. A Thai Rak Thai

MP candidate reportedly is trying to organize the rally.

However, we understand that the police may try to hold the

groups on the outskirts of town if they do reach Bangkok.

 

THIS ELECTION IS NOT GOING SO GOOD

———————————-

 

5. (SBU) The Electoral Commission is scheduled to make its

determination today on the eligibility of candidates for the

April 2 poll. The official results are not yet available,

but election officials are telling the press that they

disqualified over one-third of the contestants, and that TRT

will have the sole candidates in about 70 percent of

constituencies, including some in the South and in other

strongholds of their opponents. The possibility of a \”hung\”

election becomes ever more likely.

 

GO, ALREADY

———–

 

6. (U) Protesters sitting in at the Government House

expressed dismay that the PM had availed himself of the

magical assistance of a Cambodian shaman during his campaign

swing along the border. Two senators led the protesters in a

 

BANGKOK 00001602 002 OF 002

 

ceremony of their own, in which Thaksin was ritually cursed

three times. The senators told the crowd to curse Thaksin to

leave office and flee to Singapore.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Despite the denials of Thaksin\’s associates, we think

it is significant that he has even mentioned the possibility

of temporarily stepping down. Previously, he had insisted he

would never, ever resign. We are reminded of the shift late

last month, when Thaksin went from insisting he would never

dissolve Parliament, to telling the Ambassador that he could

do that if he liked, and then to doing it. Thaksin is

probably considering the idea of declaring a state of

emergency, that move would be viewed as precipitous and

unwarranted by many, and would no doubt invite a strong

negative backlash. If the Election Commission indeed

announces results tomorrow that cast serious doubt on the

prospects for holding a valid and credible election, the

debate within TRT between these two options is certain to

intensify. End comment,

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:20 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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