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06BANGOK1209 UPDATE OF THAI POLITICAL SITUATION: OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS, OTHERS JOIN IN

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“54604”,”2/28/2006 11:50″,”06BANGKOK1209″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

281150Z Feb 06

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001209

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, ELAB, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: UPDATE OF THAI POLITICAL SITUATION: OPPOSITION

BOYCOTTS, OTHERS JOIN IN

 

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

d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Buoyed by news that the opposition will

boycott the April 2 election, the demonstrators at Sanam

Luang disbanded about 1:30 in the morning on February 28.

They gave Prime Minister Thaksin five days to resign, and

vowed to return with an even bigger demonstration on March 5,

if necessary. Thaksin has tried a more conciliatory tone

today to tempt the opposition back into the electoral race,

so far without luck. Several labor unions announced that

they would join in the next anti-Thaksin demonstrations. TRT

is accusing the opposition of \’unconstitutional\’ actions.

End Summary.

 

2. (U) Early Monday evening, the Democrat, Chart Thai and

Mahachon parties finally announced that they would boycott

the upcoming snap elections. (These are the three parties

besides the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) in the just-dissolved

Parliament.) Leaders of the three parties had announced

early in the day that they would back away from their threat

to boycott if the Prime Minister would commit to their plan

for amending the constitution: A special committee of wise

and neutral experts, chosen primarily by the Royal Privy

Council, would draft a set of constitutional amendments in

the six months after the election. These changes would be

considered in the Senate and House, and, if approved put to a

national referendum. If the PM agreed to this plan, the

three opposition leaders and Thaksin would sit down that

evening to sign the deal.

 

3. (SBU) On Monday afternoon, Thaksin gave a half-hearted

response, saying that all the political parties, not just

those three, should join TRT in discussing this issue. (There

are about 30 registered political parties, most of them small

organizations). He declined to sign any firm agreement with

the opposition, but invited all the parties to send

representatives that evening to discuss the reform issue. In

all, his proposal fell far short of agreement with

opposition\’s fairly modest demands. Although the three

parties were reluctant to boycott, the PM\’s statement was

clearly not an acceptable response.

 

4. (U) The crowds at Sanan Luang cheered the boycott

decision. After an evening of rousing speeches condemning,

among other things, the US-Thai Free Trade Agreement

negotiations, the protesters marched to the Democracy

Monument, to pay tribute to the democracy martyrs. They

gave Thaksin a deadline of five days to resign, and they

disbanded the demonstration around 1:30 in the morning on

Tuesday, with the announcement that they would return on

March 5 to continue demonstrating if he had not resigned by

then.

 

5. (U) The two senior-most labor leaders in the country,

Somsak Kosaisook and Sirichair Maignam, have urged their

supporters to turn out en masse at Sanam Luang on March 5.

The Thai Labor Solidarity Committee, which represents the

majority of private sector unions, has also called for

supporters to rally. The labor leaders did not support the

anti-Thaksin movement earlier because of wariness about the

motives of media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul, who led the

initial demonstrations. Now that the movement has grown so

far beyond Sondhi, they are ready to join. A number of labor

unions and NGO have taken rooms in a hotel near Sanam Luang,

so that demonstrators can have a place to shower and eat

before returning to the field. A spokesman for the Teachers\’

Union has said that they would boycott and they would refuse

to provide poll workers to assist with the vote.

 

5. (U) Thaksin has responded to the boycott threat

uncharacteristically, by offering some compromise. He

proposed delaying the date of the snap election, to give the

opposition parties more time. \”I\’m willing to cooperate, but

we all need to work under the constitution,\” he told the

press on Tuesday. \”I am ready to do anything, just tell me

what you want,\” he said in an appeal to the boycotters. The

opposition parties rejected the offer.

 

6. (SBU) So far, the opposition\’s boycott is popular with

the anti-Thaksin activists, but not doing well in the first

polling information available. According to one polling

organization, 45 percent of those surveyed in and around

Bangkok do not agree with the boycott, 28 percent agree, and

26 percent are neutral. The opposition parties say that they

will meet with their constituencies to explain their decision.

 

7. (C) TRT members are making threatening noise about the

boycott, trying to label it as unconstitutional or illegal.

They have implied that that it might be grounds to dissolve

the parties. There does not appear to be any basis in law

for these threats, however,

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:14 am

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