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06BANGKOK4038 THAI ARMY CHIEF ON POLITICAL SITUATION

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“70579”,”7/7/2006 10:00″,”06BANGKOK4038″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK3916″,”VZCZCXRO1664

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #4038 1881000

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 071000Z JUL 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9995

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 004038

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS

NSC FOR HOLLY MORROW

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAI ARMY CHIEF ON POLITICAL SITUATION

 

REF: BANGKOK 03916

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH L. BOYCE. REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Royal Thai Army Commander General Sonthi

Boonyaratglin told me on July 6 that the current political

situation is untenable, but the military has no intention of

getting involved. Sonthi added that he has Thaksin\’s

supporters in the military \”under control.\” End Summary.

 

2. (C) I spoke with General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Commander

of the Royal Thai Army, at the Embassy\’s independence day

celebration July 6. Sonthi\’s attendance at the event was

itself notable, in contrast to his usual low profile on the

social circuit. Even more significant, the General agreed to

chat with me following the formalities of the receiving line,

which entailed an hour wait on his behalf. Once nestled into

a quiet corner, I asked for his take on the Prime Minister\’s

controversial comments last week (ref). Sonthi was appalled

by the thinly-veiled attack on Prem (himself one of Sonthi\’s

predecessors as Army Commander). Sonthi said that the

situation is untenable but he doesn\’t know how it can be

resolved. The current crisis revolves around one

man–Thaksin. The PM has the ability to end the crisis by

going away, but he doesn\’t want to go away. I responded that

our understanding is that Thaksin is resigned to not serve as

PM again, but he doesn\’t want to announce this for tactical

reasons: both to help his Thai Rak Thai party at the polls in

the next election and also to keep his options open should

new, unforeseen developments offer new opportunities for him.

Sonthi agreed that this uncertainty is what keeps the

political climate from improving. He also indicated in a

variety of ways that he does not approve of the Prime

Minister, particularly because Thaksin appears to be inclined

to not just stay on as PM, but to attack venerable

institutions respected by the military.

 

3. (C) I explained that policymakers in Washington are

concerned about the situation in Thailand, but have noted

that the military continues to conduct itself in a

professional manner, staying on the sidelines of this crisis,

and that this can largely be attributed to Sonthi himself.

Sonthi stated that there is no intention, whatsoever, for

military involvement in the current crisis. When asked about

continued gossip that Thaksin\’s military supporters from

pre-cadet school class 10–who now hold several important

commands–may agitate to support the PM, Sonthi coolly

responded, \”I\’ve got class 10 under control; they won\’t do

anything.\”

 

4. (C) Comment. As the local press ratchets up new rumors of

coup-plotting, it is useful to hear the Army chief state in

no uncertain terms that the military is not planning on

coming off of the bench. We take him at face value; that

said, one can never completely rule out the potential for

military intervention in Thailand.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 5:00 am

Posted in Confidential, Military

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