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06BANGKOK4373 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: SHUFFLING THE DECKS IN A HIGH-STAKES GAME

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“71992”,”7/20/2006 9:57″,”06BANGKOK4373″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK4277″,”VZCZCXRO6060

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ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 200957Z JUL 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0331

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004373

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/20/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: SHUFFLING THE DECKS IN A

HIGH-STAKES GAME

 

REF: BANGKOK 04277 (THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: JOCKEYING

INTENSIFIES)

 

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR SUSAN M. SUTTON. REASONS 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. The liar\’s poker of Thai politics heated up

this week, with Army Chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin ordering his

own reshuffle of lower-level officers and Thaksin\’s caretaker

government preparing to shift around senior civil servants.

Speculation over possible senior-level defections from

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party continues. The PM took

to the hustings to energize his grassroots base. The King

will undergo spinal surgery the evening of July 20. End

Summary.

 

YOU WANNA SHUFFLE? LET\’S SHUFFLE BIG BOY!

——————————————

 

2. (C) In an apparent response to rumors that Thaksin was

looking to push him out of his current job (ref), Army Chief

Sonthi Boonyaratglin released an order on July 17 shifting

129 officers at the Colonel and lower levels out of sensitive

positions in and around Bangkok. Many of these officers

serve in combat units commanded by Thaksin\’s classmates from

pre-cadet academy Class 10. Sonthi told reporters on July 19

that this reshuffle was free of political interference and

under his authority alone. (Note. Most transfers at this

level take place in December. End Note.) Thaksin repeated

this line with reporters on July 20, saying that the

transfers were \”an internal affair…of the Army.\” Coming on

the heels of recent coup rumors (ref), Sonthi\’s move has

attracted a lot of attention. According to the English

language Nation newspaper (no fan of the PM\’s), when asked

about recent coup rumors \”Thaksin appeared moody and replied:

\’Your question is unconstructive.\’\”

 

3. (C) One Embassy military contact–in the \”for what it\’s

worth category\”–believes that the cool and careful Sonthi

would never have undertaken such a \”provocative\” move on his

own. According to this same source, it was the Queen–no fan

of Thaksin\’s–who directed the Army Chief to push back

against the PM\’s cronies in the military.

 

THAKSIN TRIES FOR A NEW DECK AT MINISTRIES

——————————————

 

4. (C) Thaksin meanwhile, met with his cabinet on July 19 to

discuss a reshuffle of senior civil servants, including

Ministry Permanent Secretaries. According to press accounts,

the PM intends to finalize the civil service list by October.

Of these changes, the most high-profile has been the

reported move of Somchai Wongsawat–the PM\’s

brother-in-law–from the Ministry of Labor back to his

original position in the Ministry of Justice. Conspiracy

theorists have suggested that this move is designed to

strengthen the PM\’s control over ongoing investigations of

the opposition, deflect any investigations of Thaksin and his

party, and prepare Somchai to take over the Justice Minister

slot after new elections. Labor officials are reportedly

overjoyed to see Somchai move on.

 

BUT IS THE DINNER CROWD BLUFFING?

———————————-

 

5. (C) Speculation about the dinner meeting of several

cabinet ministers last Sunday–widely rumored as a pow-wow of

ministers looking for an exit strategy from the Thaksin

camp–continues to mount (ref). Those in attendance are

publicly denying any conspiracy charges, instead claiming

that the gathering at a local restaurant was merely a

birthday dinner for Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce

Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Minister in the Office of the

PM Suranand Vejjajiva–who has been rumored to be looking for

a way out of the cabinet–told reporters that the meeting was

a social occasion, but \”naturally we had to discuss the

political situation…were not going into a huddle to do

anything.\” Press play of the meeting has prompted several

other factions of the PM\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party to make

public pledges of allegiance to the besieged head of

government.

 

THAKSIN TALKS UP HIS ACES, ALL 80,000 OF \’EM

——————————————–

 

BANGKOK 00004373 002 OF 002

 

6. (C) On July 18, Thaksin met with nearly 80,000 local-level

village officials from around the country at a temple in

Pathum Thani in ostensible celebration of the King\’s 60 year

on the throne. The PM–who tried hard to not look like he

was campaigning for the next election–told the officials

that they, as representatives of the grass roots, are the

foundation of TRT, and blamed the current crisis on those

people in the opposition who fail to play by the rules.

 

THE KING SITS THIS HAND OUT

—————————-

 

7. (SBU) According to local press, the King will undergo

surgery for his spinal condition (ref) the evening of July

20, and is expected to be in recovery for several days

afterwards. \”Get Well\” books and messages have been placed

at locations throughout the country.

ARVIZU

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Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 5:08 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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