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06BANGKOK5812 THAILAND: WHO’S IN CHARGE? WHAT’S NEXT?

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“79102”,”9/20/2006 12:35″,”06BANGKOK5812″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK2988″,”VZCZCXRO4366

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5812/01 2631235

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 201235Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1783

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005812

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, MOPS, PINS, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: WHO\’S IN CHARGE? WHAT\’S NEXT?

 

REF: BANGKOK 2988

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The \”Council for Democratic Reform under

the Monarchy\” is in control of the government after a

bloodless coup on the evening of September 19. The CDRM

promises to cede control to an interim civilian government

soon, and civil society contacts we spoke to today believed

this would happen. Politicians and academics have expressed

support for the military\’s actions, believing that there was

\”no other way\” to proceed with political reform free of the

control of Prime Minister\’s Thaksin\’s enormous wealth and

political power. This is a sad commentary on the weak state

of Thailand\’s democratic institutions. The fight appears to

have gone out of Thaksin, at least for now, in light of the

complete collapse of any support for him in the military. We

are following up on reports that some leading Thai Rak Thai

members are being held in detention; others are out of the

country and may be traveling to meet Thaksin. End Summary.

 

2. (C) As of COB on 9/20 the \”Council for Democratic Reform

under the Monarchy\” (CDRM) has seized and maintained power in

a so far bloodless coup. The leaders of the Committee are:

 

Supreme Commander Gen. Ruengroj Mahasaranond, Chairman

Army Commander in Chief Sonthi Boonyaratklin, Leader

Navy C-in-C Adm Sathiraphan Keyanon, First Deputy Leader

Air Force C-in-C Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukphasuk, Second

Deputy Leader

Police Commissioner General Kowit Watthana, Third Deputy

Leader

National Security Council SecGen Gen. Winai Phattiyakul,

Secretary General

 

SIPDIS

 

COMMENT: Several things here are significant. The police are

participating, despite the fact that PM Thaksin, as a former

policeman, was considered a police ally. We have heard that

police commander Gen. Kowit told his colleagues that he was

not a member of the coup conspiracy, but he knew about it and

went along with it. Also significant is the participation of

Supreme Commander Ruengroj. In Thaksin\’s effort from New

York on 9/19, to stem the tide against him, he was relying on

the Supreme Commander to rally the troops loyal to the PM and

oppose the coup. We believe that Ruengroj\’s \”defection\” was a

factor in Thaksin\’s so far muted response to the coup. End

comment

 

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

———————-

 

3. (C) The CDRM issued a steady stream of communiques

overnight on 9/19-20, mostly couched in reassuring language.

The statements reiterate that the generals have no intention

to retain power, and plan to return the government to

civilian control \”as soon as possible.\” General Winai, who

is on the Council, told the Ambassador last night that it

might take a few days before the military would cede control

to a civilian. During a briefing for the diplomatic corps

(septel), Gen. Sonthi committed to the transfer within two

weeks. (COMMENT: Speculation on a transitional PM centers on

Privy Counselor Surayud (reftel) and Bank of Thailand

governor Pridyathorn — presumably to send a strong positive

signal on the economy.)

 

4. (C) The CDRM statements also contain elements that cause

concern. It has forbidden the assembly of more than five

people \”for a political purpose.\” (We understand that the

police are interpreting that as forbidding assembly for any

purpose.) It also ordered the Ministry of Information and

Communications Technology to \’control and block\’ all network

information that affects the administration of the CDRM.

(CNN and BBC news services on the one cable TV provider were

off for most of last night and today, but appear to be back

on again.)

 

BANGKOK REJOICES

—————-

 

5. (C) Post has spoken to a range of contacts in Bangkok

about the coup. PAO academic contacts could only be

described as ebullient. They gave a variety of

justifications for the army\’s move, alleging that Thaksin had

 

BANGKOK 00005812 002 OF 002

 

deliberately incited problems in the South to strengthen his

political position, for example, and even claiming he was

behind the bomb attacks in Hat Yai. One said that army was

only reacting to the \”coup\” already staged by Thaksin, a

reference to what is seen as his anti-democratic ruling

style. They all felt that the coup was inevitable and it was

good that it happened while Thaksin was out of the country.

 

6. (C) Political party contacts were more restrained in their

response. They recognized that it \”looked bad\” for Thailand

to have a military coup, and they regretted it. But both the

Democrat Party spokesman and a leading Chart Thai member gave

essentially the same response: what else was there to do?

Thaksin\’s enormous wealth made him unbeatable in elections.

He had emasculated the Constitution\’s checks and balances.

Both emphasized the importance of looking forward. Polcouns

asked both whether they were concerned that the military

might try to keep hold of the power it seized. Both

expressed confidence that the military would return power to

civilian government quickly. The Democrat spokesman added

that elections would not take place this November, but that

the elections held sometime next year would be fairer, and

this was the key thing. One pointed to the jovial atmosphere

on the streets, which we have also noticed. People are

having their pictures taken with the tanks, and for the most

part, getting on with their normal lives. They are relieved,

not afraid.

 

THAI RAK THAI — WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

————————————

 

7. (C) The Ambassador spoke with Thai Amb. Virasakdi in New

York about 1 p.m. Bangkok time Thaksin and associates were

awaiting overflight clearance for Canada and Greenland en

route to London. Family members will join in London after

coming from various places. Virasakdi said Thaksin was in a

&reflective8 mood now. He knew it was over when he learned

that Supreme Commander Ruengroj was part of the audience last

night. Thaksin &looks forward to taking break8 and then

possibly returning to Thailand in low-key fashion at some

point in not-too-distant future. He was &somewhat

relieved8 that as result of coup, he won,t be in a position

to \”disappoint the rural poor who were counting on him.8

Thaksin had spoken with Gen. Winai in recent hours; Thaksin

had expressed concern that his &property8 in Chiang Mai

would be vandalized. Gen. Winai assured him not to worry.

 

8. (C) A number of Thaksin\’s ministers and associates

appear to have been out of the country at the time of the

coup. The Ambassador confirmed that two of them – Deputy PM

Chidchai and Secretary to the PM\’s office Prommin — have

been detained by the authorities, reportedly at Army HQ.

Ambassador expressed concern about them to Gen. Winai, who

gave assurances that they were well. (We have also followed

up on reports that members of the opposition People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD) were being detained. According

to PAD leaders, these reports are not true.)

 

COMMENT

—————-

 

9. (C) Many of Bangkok\’s opinion shapers seem willing to

accept a coup and a brief period of military rule in exchange

for a clean slate and a chance at new round of political

reforms and elections free of the specter of Thaksin\’s

overwhelming wealth and power. This is a very sad

commentary on the state of Thailand\’s democratic

institutions. The one bright spot on the landscape is the

widespread view that the military will quickly cede power to

a civilian government, and that it will proceed with

constitutional reform and elections without delay. The

upbeat atmosphere here will quickly turn nasty if the

military does not keep that promise.

 

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:51 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

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