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06BANGKOK5814 THAILAND MILITARY COUP LEADER BRIEFS FOREIGN ENVOYS, PROMISES TO APPOINT CIVILIAN PRIME MINISTER WITHIN TWO WEEKS

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“79108”,”9/20/2006 13:02″,

 

“06BANGKOK5814″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

“CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4433

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5814/01 2631302

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O 201302Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1785

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005814

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PINS, PHUM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND MILITARY COUP LEADER BRIEFS FOREIGN

ENVOYS, PROMISES TO APPOINT CIVILIAN PRIME MINISTER WITHIN

TWO WEEKS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Boyce, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. 1. (C) Summary: The Thai military-led \”Council for

Democratic Reform Under the Constitutional Monarchy\” (CDRM)

held a briefing for the Bangkok diplomatic corps and defense

attaches at Royal Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok on

September 20. Speaking for the CDRM, Army Commander-in-Chief

Sonthi Bunyaratkalin said that his group had deposed the

Thaksin-led caretaker government in response to \”a lack of

political confidence; rampant nepotism; corruption;

unprecedented social divisions in Thailand; the inability of

administrative institutions to function properly without

political interference; social injustice,\” and offenses to

the Thai monarch. Sonthi pledged that within two weeks the

CDRM will put in place a temporary constitution and appoint a

civilian Prime Minister, along with a provisional legislative

body. These groups will work to draft a new constitution and

implement political reform, thus paving the way for popular

elections. Sonthi stressed that the military\’s goal is \”to

make democracy a reality in Thailand.\” While he stated that

Thaksin \”has not done anything legally incorrect\” and is free

to return to Thailand, Sonthi was evasive when pressed to

explain exactly what had prompted the coup. Sonthi\’s overall

performance in justifying the coup was uneven at best, but

the good news here is that he has committed to move toward

civilian rule in two weeks. We should welcome this commitment

and hold the CDRM to it. End Summary.

 

The Council for Democratic Reform Under a Constitutional

Monarchy

 

2. (C) The Thai military-led \”Council for Democratic Reform

Under the Constitutional Monarchy\” (CDRM) held a briefing for

the Bangkok diplomatic corps and defense attaches at Royal

Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok on September 20. While the

briefing was conducted by Army Commander-in-Chief Sonthi

Bunyaratkalin, the other five members of the CDRM were in

attendance as well. (Note: The CDRM consists of General

Ruengroj Mahasaranond (Supreme Commander), Chairman; General

Sonthi Bunyaratkalin (Army Commander-in-Chief), Leader;

Admiral Sathiraphan Keyanon (Navy Commander-in-Chief, 1st

Deputy Leader; Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukphasuk (Air Force

Commander-in-Chief), 2nd Deputy Leader; Police General Kowit

Watthana (Police Commissioner General), 3rd Deputy Leader;

and General Winai Phattiyakul (Secretary General of the

National Security Council), Secretary General.)

 

Reasons for the Coup

————————–

3. (C) Sonthi told the attendees that the CDRM members had

acted due to \”a lack of political confidence; rampant

nepotism; corruption; unprecedented social divisions in

Thailand; the inability of administrative institutions to

function properly without political interference; and social

injustice. Last but not least, there were words and actions

that undermined the very basis of our society.\” (Comment:

This last point is a clear reference to lest majeste, the

committing of an offense against the Thai King.). For these

reasons, said Sonthi, the CDRM\’s members \”have received

numerous requests to act, to bring peace and normalcy back to

the country.\” He added, \”We have acted to solve the existing

stalemate and remove uncertainty and lack of confidence which

have existed for too long in Thailand.\” Sonthi pledged that

Thailand would continue to adhere to the UN Charter, respect

its international treaties and agreements, and work to have

good relations with foreign countries. The CDRM Leader said

that his group \”has received cooperation from all sectors of

Thai society and encountered no resistance.\” Last night, he

said, CDRM members had an audience with the King and Queen.

 

Plans for a Civilian Government

—————————————

4. (C) Sonthi laid out his plans for a return to civilian

rule. First, in two weeks the CDRM will put in place a

temporary constitution and appoint a civilian Prime Minister,

along with a provisional legislative body. These groups will

work to draft a new constitution and implement political

reform, thus paving the way for popular elections.

 

Why Now?

————-

5. (C) In the follow-up question-and-answer session, the UK

Charge d\’Affaires noted that two days ago the military

(including Sonthi) were being quoted as ruling out a coup and

stating that elections were the right way forward. What, he

asked, had suddenly changed and prompted a military coup?

Sonthi replied, \”The military has been watching the situation

 

BANGKOK 00005814 002 OF 002

 

with concern and patience, but recently we have learned

certain facts about the (Thaksin) caretaker government. This

information convinced us that further waiting would not

result in democracy, so we acted. Our purpose is to make

democracy a reality.\”

 

6. (C) The Swiss Ambassador asked how long Thailand would

be under martial law, and if Thailand\’s borders remain open.

Sonthi did not respond to the first question, but affirmed

that Thailand\’s borders currently are open. (Note: Other

sources report at least a part of the border with Burma is

closed. End Note)

 

What About Thaksin and His Cabinet?

———————————–

7. (C) The Japanese Ambassador asked what the CDRM intended

to do about Thaksin, his family, and the members of his

cabinet. Sonthi replied that \”Thaksin, his family, and his

cabinet will not have their legal rights taken away.\” He

added that Thaksin is free to return to Thailand.

 

What Has Thaksin Done?

———————

8. (C) The UK Charge noted that Sonthi had said that the

coup was prompted by \”certain facts\” concerning Thaksin

which, while unspecified, must be fairly serious given the

actions they provoked. Yet, the CDRM does not have any plans

to take any legal action against Thaksin. What, asked the UK

Charge, has Thaksin done? Sonthi replied, \”Thaksin has not

done anything legally incorrect.\”

 

9. (C) The Australian Ambassador pressed Sonthi on his

statement that the CDRM had acted in response to \”numerous

requests\” and the pre-coup situation was a \”stalemate.\” He

asked who had made the numerous requests, and questioned

whether a stalemate existed since a new Election Commission

had been formed and a consensus was forming for holding

elections in late November. Sonthi replied, \”The people

requested us to act; they were not receiving the benefits of

democracy. A democracy formed by the people did not exist.\”

Sonthi added that the formation of a new Election Commission

\”is a separate matter from the administration of the

democratic process, which in the past was not tangible and

complete.\”

 

When Will Thailand Again Be a Democracy?

——————————————— ———

10. (C) Noting that his country currently holds the EU

Presidency, the Finnish Ambassador asked 1) \”When will

Thailand re-join the ranks of the world\’s democracies\”; and

2) whether Thailand is a safe destination for tourists during

the upcoming holiday season. Replying to the first question,

Sonthi said that \”Thailand is 100 percent democratic now; our

reason for action is that we want real democracy in our

country.\” He assured the attendees that Thailand remains a

safe and welcoming destination for tourists.

 

Comment

————

11. (C) Even after making due allowance for the fact that

the CDRM members had not gotten any sleep the previous night,

Sonthi\’s performance was uneven at best. Sonthi offered

either no or inadequate answers to basic questions about the

restoration of democratic rule that could and should have

been anticipated from an audience that included many

representatives of democracies. The good news is Sonthi\’s

assurance that a civilian Prime Minister will be appointed in

two weeks. We should welcome this commitment and hold the

CDRM to it.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:52 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

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