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06BANGKOK5836 THE MONARCHY\’S ROLE IN THAILAND\’S SEPTEMBER 19 COUP

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“79224”,”9/21/2006 11:40″,

 

“06BANGKOK5836″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

“CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK5812″,”VZCZCXRO5747

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5836/01 2641140

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 211140Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1808

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 6078

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1520

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005836

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2016

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

SUBJECT: THE MONARCHY\’S ROLE IN THAILAND\’S SEPTEMBER 19 COUP

 

REF: BANGKOK 5812 (WHO\’S IN CHARGE?)

 

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

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) It remains unclear whether Thailand\’s King encouraged

or provided approval in advance for the September 19 coup

d\’etat by the Council for Democratic Reform Under the

Monarchy (CDRM). However, the CDRM is publicly linked to the

monarchy to a greater extent than previous coup plotters, and

the CDRM\’s September 19 royal audience sent a clear public

signal of Palace endorsement. Palace endorsement likely

contributed to public support for the coup, although polls by

two prominent institutions provide divergent accounts of the

coup\’s popularity. The ill health of the King might have

influenced the timing of the coup. End Summary.

 

ROYAL AUDIENCE KEY TO COUP SUCCESS, ACCEPTABILITY

——————————————— —-

 

2. (C) On the night of September 19, soon after the CDRM

seized control of the media, word spread that CDRM leaders

would have an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The

audience took place at Chittralada Villa from 12:19 a.m.

until 1:24 a.m. the same night, according to an Embassy

contact at the Palace. The willingness of the King to

receive the CDRM representatives so quickly sent a clear

public signal of royal endorsement of the coup. And by

including Supreme Commander Ruangroj, previously thought to

be firmly in Thaksin\’s camp, the audience displayed the

military\’s unity and loyalty to the King — to the point of

deflating Thaksin\’s hopes that he could prevail against the

rebellious soldiers (reftel).

 

3. (C) The CDRM\’s public claims that it acted to maintain

peace and order, and to protect the King against acts of lese

majeste, were not unexpected or atypical. The CDRM\’s

inclusion of reference to the monarchy in the coup-plotters\’

group name, however, appears unprecedented in Thai history.

(A literal translation of the Thai version is: \”Council for

Reforming Governance in the Democratic System having His

Majesty the King as Head of State.\”) Also unprecedented is

an alleged Royal Command, published online by the Prime

Minister\’s Office, in which the King \”appoints General Sonthi

as leader of the (CDRM), and demands… all government

officials follow the orders of General Sonthi.\” (Full text

of the alleged Royal Command provided septel.) Embassy

contacts at the Palace tell us they have not seen a copy of

the signed Royal Command, however.

 

4. (C) Given the widespread public understanding, especially

in Bangkok, that Thaksin was increasingly engaged in

confrontation with members of the Privy Council (if not with

the King himself), most Thais view the CDRM as acting on

behalf of the King\’s interests. Almost universal Thai

reverence for the King has likely contributed significantly

to popular acceptance of the coup.

 

5. (C) The King is in ill health and has not been seen in

public since his August 4 departure from a Bangkok hospital.

However, we hear that the CDRM has requested the release of

photographs and video footage of the royal audience with the

CDRM. Our contacts told us that the King\’s Secretary will

likely release the photographs, but is unlikely to release

the video footage. Release of images from the audience would

convey further signals of royal endorsement.

 

KING\’S HEALTH INFLUENCING COUP TIMING?

————————————–

 

6. (C) Given the King\’s ill health, we do not dismiss the

possibility that the coup\’s timing was determined in part not

only by Thaksin\’s travel abroad, but also by a desire by CDRM

figures to make their move while they could still obtain the

support of the King. (Not only does the King\’s imprimatur

carry much more weight than the Crown Prince\’s would, but a

coup mounted during any period of mourning would be seen as a

deep affront to Thai sensibilities, no matter how unpopular

the government. Similarly, whatever constitutional reform

efforts begin under the CDRM will likely be suspended for a

lengthy period in the event of the King\’s demise.)

 

COMMENT

——-

 

BANGKOK 00005836 002 OF 002

 

7. (C) The now-terminated 1997 Constitution provided no basis

for military intervention in politics. The monarchy appears

to be the sole institution capable of legitimizing the

September 19 coup in the eyes of the Thai people. By its

actions to date, the Palace seems to be playing that role.

The King\’s imprimatur — combined with widespread hatred of

Thaksin in elite circles — appears to have provided a

certain amount of breathing room for the CDRM.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:54 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] In this cable, U.S. ambassador Ralph Boyce wrote of the role of the monarchy and the 2006 coup in a cable dated 21 September 2006. That’s just three days after the […]

  2. […] In this cable, U.S. ambassador Ralph Boyce wrote of the role of the monarchy and the 2006 coup in a cable dated 21 September 2006. That’s just three days after the […]


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