06BANGKOK3586 KING CELEBRATIONS FINISH; RETURN TO POLITICS AS USUAL
“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 003586
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2016
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates
SUBJECT: KING CELEBRATIONS FINISH; RETURN TO POLITICS AS
REF: 05 BANGKOK 07197
Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: The three remaining Election Commissioners
face continued pressure to step down. If, as appears likely,
they are finally forced out, it should take a minimum of
several weeks to replace them. Several sources have
speculated that the elections are therefore unlikely to take
place in October, and could slip even into early next year.
In the latest addition to the growing array of lawsuits, PM
Thaksin has sued the Democrat Party for calling him a
\”blood-sucking demon;\” he sued several newspapers as well for
publishing the slur. End summary.
ELECTIONS DELAYED FURTHER?
2. (C) Several sources are predicting that elections will
not be held in October, as proposed by the current
(embattled) Election Commission. If the remaining three
Election Commissioners are forced to resign, it could take
several weeks, at least, to replace them. The current
presumption is that one of the high courts would function as
a nominating committee, to prepare a list of qualified
candidates. The \”old\” Senate (which is still on the payroll,
until all 200 \”new\” Senate members are approved by the EC)
would then elect the 5 winners. Even if accelerated, this
process will take some time, at least several weeks. One
source (a former TRT MP who has left the party) expects the
vote to be delayed until January.
3. (C) Even TRT may be edging away from the vilified
Election Commissioners. Minister to the PM\’s Office Suranand
Vejjajiva told the press on June 14 that the commissioners
should consider resigning, in order to promote greater public
harmony. He also noted that the elections might be delayed
beyond the proposed October 15 date, but the important thing
was for the elections to be fair and reflect the will of the
people. At a dinner with the Ambassador on June 14, the
Health Minister (a TRT member) predicted that the Election
Commissioners would have to step down. The Minister also
predicted that Thaksin would not return as PM in the new
government, whenever that was finally formed.
4 (C) With the celebrations of the King\’s 60th anniversary
over, it\’s time for Thai politicians to return to the
national pastime of filing complaints against each other.
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin filed a lawsuit with the
Criminal Court against the Democrat Party for defamation and
three Thai language newspapers (Matichon, Khao Sod and Daily
News) for publishing the Democrats\’ accusations. (The
Democrats accused the PM of being a \”blood-sucking demon.\”
We note that this is the second time that Thaksin has sued
someone for calling him a demon – reftel.) Thaksin is
seeking 800 million Baht (usdols 21 million) in damages.
5. (C) 20 \”caretaker\” senators prepared a petition urging
the Constitutional court to remove Thaksin from office. They
repeat an argument making the rounds recently, that Thaksin\’s
premiership expired when he took his leave of absence after
the elections. They argue that his statements and actions at
that time (such as his dramatic and televised clearing out of
all his personal effects from his office) demonstrated an
\”intention to resign.\” It appears that the petition will
have to be forwarded to the Court through caretaker Senate
speaker Suchon, however, who is a TRT ally and may find a way
to block it. Based on the press reports, the arguments appear
weak, but the case is another headache for the PM to handle.
6. (C) Democrat Party leader Abhisit and SecGen Sutheep faced
questioning by the EC on June 14. In May, TRT filed a
complaint with the EC accusing the Democrats of trying to
overthrow democracy by: calling for the King to appoint a PM
under Article 7; boycotting the elections; and campaigning
for a \”no\” vote. TRT also alleged the Democrats hired
microparties to \”frame\” TRT (itself accused of paying off
several microparties to run in the election so TRT could
avoid the 20 percent minimum vote requirement for unopposed
parties.) So far, there is no sign that TRT or the EC has
any evidence to support the contention that the Democrats
hired the microparties, a charge that would be damaging, if
true. The other allegations do not appear to pose a
significant threat to the Democrats.