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06BANGKOK5929 THAI OFFICIALS PLEA FOR UNDERSTANDING

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“79700”,”9/26/2006 11:02″,”06BANGKOK5929″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK5894″,”null

Debra P Tous 09/27/2006 10:12:46 AM From DB/Inbox: Debra P Tous

 

Cable

Text:

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 05929

 

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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 03 BANGKOK 005929

 

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TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAI OFFICIALS PLEA FOR UNDERSTANDING

 

REF: BANGKOK 05894 (NEW CONSTITUTION DRAFTER BRIEFS

AMBASSADOR)

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The MFA permanent secretary and the ruling

military council\’s Secretary General reassured the diplomatic

corps that Thailand would return to democratic rule as soon

as possible. The Secretary General personally assured the

Ambassador during a pull-aside that a civilian prime minister

would be named by Sunday. The Thai side asked for

understanding from Thailand\’s \”friends\” for the special

circumstances here. They laid our a timetable for the return

to elected government:

 

— an interim constitution by Friday

— an interim PM within the promised two week window

— quick establishment of a constitution drafting committee

— \”eight months and 15 days\” for the drafting and review of

the constitution, and its submission in a referendum to the

public

— \”free and fair elections\” within a year from now.

 

2. (C) Summary continued: The ruling military council will

transform itself into a Council on National Security once it

has transfered power to the interim prime minister and will

retain only limited powers, largely in response to continued

concerns about the possibility of a counter-coup. The

interim civilian government will have an uphill battle to

keep to the timetable for the constitution and elections that

has been promised. End summary.

 

3. (C) MFA PermSec Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn and NSC Secretary

General Winai Phattiyakul (also SecGen of the Council for

Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy – CDRM)

called the diplomatic corps for a meeting on 9/25. Krit

admitted that the \”coups are wrong and undesirable\” and

recognized that many might see the situation as \”black and

white.\” But he hoped that diplomats would recognize that

there were gray areas. He pointed out that the \”people as a

whole seem to have welcomed the military intervention.\” He

also emphasized that the CDRM did not want to hold on to

power itself, but would turn over power to an interim

civilian government as soon as possible, hopefully within two

weeks. Many other governments had already passed judgment on

the military intervention; Krit asked that \”friends\” continue

to keep their judgments under review and reconsider them in

the light of new information. Because the transition was

peaceful, Thailand hopes to \”win back the trust of the

international community in our economy and in our deep

commitment to democracy.\”

 

4. (C) Krit pointed out that the CDRM was already restoring

some on the mechanisms of normal government. The Election

Commission would continue to function, and was \”already

making progress toward free and fair elections.\” The

National Counter-Corruption Commission was empowered to

investigate government corruption issues, along with the

Auditor-General. The CDRM had affirmed that the office of the

Ombudsman still functioned, and could receive complaints from

citizens. The National Human Rights Commission would

continue to carry out its mandate.

 

A ROSE IS A ROSE IS…

———————-

 

5. (C) Krit said that the CDRM had learned that the initial

rendering of its title (The Council for Democratic Reform

under the Constitutional Monarchy) had caused

misunderstandings and \”wrongly suggested some role for His

Majesty in the September 19 intervention.\” Therefore, the

official title would now be simply the Council for Democratic

Reform CDR) (reftel) During the Q\’s and A\’s, Krit returned to

the question of the King\’s role. He emphasized that the CDR

had their audience with the King \”after the process of the

takeover\” to report what had happened. \”The King had no

foreknowledge\” of the coup. \”He is above politics. Remember

the past year; he has been cautious not to intervene. He

turned down requests to appoint a prime minister under

Article 7 of the Constitution. That was a clear indication

of how the King applies his role as constitutional monarch.\”

He added, \”We don\’t want any misunderstanding about this —

hence, the name change.\”

TIMELINE FOR RETURN TO ELECTED GOVERNMENT

—————————————–

 

6. (C) General Winai then laid out the timeline for return to

democratic government. (Note: his presentation closely

mirrored the account we had already received from legal

expert Borwornsak Uwanno – reftel). He also emphasized that

the CDR did not want to hold on to power. They had a legal

advisory group working day and night, and it had completed

the draft interim Constitution. That draft was under

consideration now; deans of the preeminent law faculties of

the country were assisting in the review. The CDR expected

to announce an interim Constitution on September 29. Shortly

thereafter, it would name an interim civilian Prime Minister

and cabinet. (Note: In a pull-aside after the meeting, the

Ambassador emphasized to General Winai how important it was

for the CDR to hold to its announced timetable and transfer

power to a civilian government as soon as possible. Winai

assured the Ambassador that the CDR fully intended to do

this, and predicted that they would be able to name the new

PM by Sunday. end note.) Once the CDR had transfered

authority to the civilian PM, it would become the Council on

National Security, and it would have limited authority

primarily in matters of national security. During the Q\’s

and A\’s, they were questioned again about the role of this

Council. Winai emphasized that the new Council would have a

\”minimal\” mandate to look after national security issues and

ensure that there is a free and fair election. Krit added

that the Council on National Security was necessary to

prevent \”counter-coup efforts.\”

 

7. (U) The CDR would also name two other bodies. First

would be a legislative body. This would serve as a

Parliament to handle required legislation while the interim

government was in power. The CDR would also name

approximately 2000 people from all walks of life and all

parts of the country, and they would in turn choose 100-200

legal experts who would then draft the new constitution.

 

8. (U) The drafting process would take six months. The

government would then take one month to example the draft and

consult. It would give the drafting commission 15 days to

make corrections to the draft, and would then prepare to hold

a referendum. They anticipated this would take one month.

According to this timetable, the new constitution would be

ready in \”eight months and 15 days.\” After that, \”free and

fair elections\” would be organized, within one year from now.

 

ECONOMIC ISSUES

—————-

 

9. (U) Winai said that there would be minimal economic

impact. The new airport would open on schedule this week,

and the country\’s international trade policy would remain

unchanged, including regarding free-trade agreements.

 

CIVIL LIBERTIES ISSUES

———————-

 

10. (U) Winai referred to the many questions about the

restrictions on civil liberties, especially freedom of

assembly. \”Thai hold these freedoms dear,\” he said. He

promised that political activities could be resumed when the

situation returns to normal, and that press freedom would be

restored soon. (During the Q\’s and A\’s, Winai also

underscored that the CDR had not dissolved any political

parties; the parties would be able to participate in the

elections next year.) Winai concluded saying that the \”trust

and confidence of our international partners is necessary for

us to return to normalcy.\”

 

11. (U) During the Q\’s and A\’s, Winai took the opportunity to

highlight the coup\’s role in forestalling possible further

violence. He refered to a \”concrete intelligence report\”

that some pro-Thaksin forces planned to bring supporters to

Bangkok to confront the opposition rally scheduled for

September 20. Winai claimed that \”violence was imminent\” and

the decision for military intervention had to be made \”to

prevent loss of life.\” It was better to act before a clash

than after, he said.

12. (U) Most questions focused on civil liberties and the

transition to democracy. The Ambassador expressed concern

about the four former officials reportedly detained; he asked

whether they would charged with any offense, or released.

Winai said that the CDR had invited them under its

protection. They would not be charged with any offense, and

they would be allowed to go free \”at an appropriate time.\” He

said that they were not being mistreated, and that their

families were allowed to visit. \”We need to take measures to

keep the situation stable,\” he said. The Australian

ambassador pointed out that the members of the interim

legislature and the 2000-member \”electoral college\” that will

chose the constitution drafting committee were all appointed

by the CDR, through a process that was inherently not

democratic. The UK representative also asked whether these

bodies would have representatives from upcountry, or would

they have largely Bangkok-based participants? Krit responded

that \”everything is under discussion\” and that the CDR

planned to have the widest possible involvement. Another

democratic element would be introduced when the draft

constitution was submitted to a referendum. \”The points you

make are at the forefront of the minds of those deciding,\”

Krit said.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) The CDR appears to on track for keeping its first big

commitment, setting up the interim constitution and

transferring power to the interim PM. We will continue to

emphasize the importance of keeping to this timetable. We

were struck by a couple of points in the presentation. One

is that some of the CDR decisions are clearly driven by

concerns of a possible counter-coup. This will make the

transition back to full respect for civil liberties more

difficult. Second is the angst over how to portray the

King\’s role. On the one hand, the CDR wants the legitimacy

that comes from the perception that the King has accepted, if

not approved, the coupmakers\’ actions. At the same time,

they do not want to be accused of causing damage to the

King\’s reputation by having exposed him to international

criticism. (The reference to the King as \”an idiot\” by a

reporter asking questions at the State Department briefing

has already excited great concern at the MFA. there is also

lingering concern about the book \”The King Never Smiles\”

which, though banned in Thailand, is on the minds of some.)

We were also struck by the military precision of the

timetable Gen. Winai laid out: precisely eight months and 15

days until the new constitution. The CDR is handing the

interim government a very tough timetable. Getting

Thailand\’s fractious civil society to go along with the CDR\’s

precise timetable, while allowing a return to normal civil

liberties, will be a difficult trick.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

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