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06BANGKOK5072 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: SCHISMS AND UNCERTAINTIES

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“75346″,”8/18/2006 10:21″,”06BANGKOK5072″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4201

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1044

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005072

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE PASS TO USTR

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: SCHISMS AND

UNCERTAINTIES

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The caretaker Senate formed a Background

Investigation Committee on August to look into the ten EC

candidates for the next twenty days, after which the Senate

will vote to select five winners. If the committee takes the

full twenty days, it will likely lead to a delay of the

elections scheduled for October 15. This is probably

generally acceptable here if it is necessary. Meanwhile,

factional schisms within the TRT are becoming more apparent,

with rumors of various party leaders considering leaving

politics — perhaps as a ploy to pressure Thaksin to step

aside. Commerce Minister Somkid is the latest rumored

deserter. Thaksin dismissed the rumors, saying that, in any

case, all his ministers were \”just his helpers\” and he is the

main force in government. End Summary.

 

TO DELAY OR NOT DELAY?

———————-

 

2. (C) The caretaker Senate voted August 15 to form a

Background Investigation Committee to examine the ten

Election Commission (EC) candidates, setting a twenty day

deadline to complete their investigation and bring the

candidates to a vote. Although the committee could

conceivably conclude their investigation prior to the

twenty-day deadline, it appears unlikely that the new EC

would be formed by August 24, when the royal decree calling

for the election becomes effective. If August 24 passes

without an existing EC, several possibilities arise –

 

SCENARIO ONE

 

3. (C) If the new EC is elected by the beginning of

September, it could perhaps stick to scheduled October 15

election date. This, however, may be logistically

problematic. The previous election commissioners already set

September 5 as the date to begin candidate registration, so

the new EC really must be formed by that date to either

receive registrations or officially announce a delay. Even if

the final EC members are selected and confirmed before

September 5, they would need time to organize their

administration in order to run a credible election. The new

EC may try to stick to the election date set by the royal

decree, since this has already been signed by the King (still

recovering from his surgery last month.) However, this

appears more and more difficult.

 

SCENARIO TWO

 

4. (SBU) The new EC could delay the candidate registration

date and election date by means of requesting a new royal

decree. (Note: By law, candidate registration occurs within

twenty days of the royal decree\’s effective date, and the

election within sixty days, so any delay beyond October 22

will require the King to sign a new decree. End note.) The

EC would then have more time to prepare and run the election.

The results of a delayed, but better-prepared election may

also be better-received by the country.

 

LOVE HURTS

———-

 

5. (SBU) Members of Thai Rak Thai (TRT) outside the party\’s

strongholds are reportedly concerned that they could face a

backlash in the election contests for constituency seats. We

hear that many are trying to get more secure spots on the

party list ballot. Traditionally, some important TRT figures

are not MPs at all, but serve in ministerial or other

political appointments. Elected MPs are secure in their

positions, in most circumstances, until the next election,

but Thaksin\’s ministers do not appear to have much job

security. Thaksin is said to plan on divvying up these jobs

in a way to benefit those closest to him, slating TRT

factional leaders and some other key figures for political

appointments rather than MP slots, and thereby \”depriving\”

these individuals of the relative independence and security

of MP status.

 

6. (C) Not surprisingly, rumors of more discontent within

TRT are increasing. Newspapers reported this week that

Commerce Minister Somkid, a founding member of TRT who is

 

BANGKOK 00005072 002 OF 002

 

well regarded particularly by business leaders, is said to be

considering taking a break from politics after the elections.

(Somkid\’s concerns about Thaksin have been evident from our

contacts with him as well.) This may just be part of a plan

to put pressure on Thaksin to step aside, rather than drag

TRT down with him. If so, it doesn\’t appear to be working so

far. In reaction to the possible departure of Somkid,

Thaksin told reporters that \”today, I am the major force (in

the government) and everybody else is just my helper.\”

(Comment: another morale boost for the embattled TRT

members. End comment.)

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Opposition parties such as the Democrats and Chart

Thai may appreciate extra time on the campaign trail;

delaying the election probably disadvantages Thaksin and the

TRT. The already apparent schism within the TRT may deepen

with passing time, and the ceaseless attacks targeting the PM

may also weaken Thaksin\’s popularity, despite his continued

strength in the North and Northeast. Leaving aside partisan

issues, there is a compelling interest in getting a

functioning, legitimate parliament and government in place

without unnecessary delay. Nonetheless, Thaksin conceded

today that the elections might slip until the end of October,

and we expect that such a delay would be broadly acceptable

if it were necessary. Once the new EC is in place –

hopefully in very early September — we should finally get an

election date we can count on.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

Posted in Confidential, Election

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