thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

06BANGKOK5973 THAILAND COUP: SONTHI ASKS SURAYUD TO BE INTERIM PRIME MINISTER

with one comment

“79989”,”9/28/2006 11:03″,

 

“06BANGKOK5973”,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO2963

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5973/01 2711103

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281103Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1952

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6098

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2150

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 005973

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR P, EAP, EAP/MLS

NSC FOR WILDER, MORROW

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND COUP: SONTHI ASKS SURAYUD TO BE INTERIM

PRIME MINISTER

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) I called on retired General and Privy Councilor

Surayud Chulanont at the Privy Council Chambers on September

28. Surayud began by apologizing for telling me on the night

of the coup that he did not know of anything going on that

night. He maintains that when we spoke, he was on his way

home from a palace religious ceremony–attended by Privy

Council head Prem–for the Queen\’s late mother. After

returning home, he had turned on the TV and saw Thaksin\’s

attempt to declare emergency rule and fire Army Chief Sonthi.

At that point, Prem called and instructed him to \”come to

the palace.\”

 

2. (C) Turning to the current state of affairs, Surayud

explained that on the evening of September 27, General Sonthi

Boonyaratklin had come to his residence and asked him to be

the interim Prime Minister. Surayud responded that he didn\’t

really want the post, but if the King approved it, he

obviously would take the position. I responded to this by

saying that \”you and I both know what will happen;\” Surayud

will take the job. We shared a laugh over the frustrating

nature of the position: a difficult job for 8-10 months that

angers many people and then you get kicked out.

 

3. (C) Surayud reiterated the common assertion by many Thai

that the coup was \”the only way out.\” Thai politics were at

\”a total stalemate.\” Surayud hopes that the coup, in

hindsight, will be seen as one step back, but two steps

forward for Thai democracy. I told Surayud that he is the

right person for the job in this difficult situation. As PM,

he will make it possible for the Council for National

Security (CNS, the CDRM\’s new name under the pending interim

constitution) to step back and permit the interim civilian

government to have more authority and leeway to pave the way

towards the restoration of an elected government. If a

civilian technocrat such as banker Pridyathorn or UNCTAD

Chief Supachai had been selected, that may have sent a better

initial signal to foreign observers, but would not have

inspired the CNS to take a more hands-off role.

 

4. (C) I added that most people felt that it would be

defensible for the CNS to retain certain, circumscribed

powers, allowing them to guard against a counter-coup or to

improve security in the troubled South. However, several

articles in the draft interim constitution that we have seen

allow the CNS to have final say in the selection of ministers

and drafters for the new constitution. Moreover, the clause

preventing members of the interim parliament and

constitutional commission from running for office in the next

two years had reportedly been dropped. These problematic

elements, frankly, run counter to otherwise positive signs

that GEN Sonthi intends to make good on his pledge to \”get

out\” of politics. Surayud agreed, adding that he had argued

that the CNS should step back as much as possible. According

to Surayud, Sonthi does not want political power.

 

5. (C) Turning to the public reaction to Surayud\’s new role,

I explained that some are likely to criticize the selection

of a former Army Chief as Prime Minister. Others may

criticize the selection of a sitting Privy Councilor as an

indication that the King is calling the shots. Surayud

responded by noting that a retired military officer is a

civilian, adding, \”I challenge anyone to look at my military

record and find problems with it.\”

 

6. (C) I reviewed the USG response to the coup, including our

strong public criticism. Surayud said he understood

perfectly. I explained that Washington was examining a

suspension of assistance under Section 508. Surayud

acknowledged this, saying it was \”just like in 1991.\”

Surayud explained that the interim constitution is scheduled

for release by Royal Proclamation on September 29, with the

announcement of the new PM next Monday or Tuesday. I noted

that October 3 will be day 14 following the coup, and that it

is important that Sonthi and the CDRM hold to their

self-imposed two week target to appoint a civilian

government. Surayud agreed and believes that they are doing

just that. Finally, Surayud asked that if his new position

 

BANGKOK 00005973 002 OF 002

 

does come to pass, he would welcome an early call on him.

 

COMMENT

——-

7. (C) Surayud is a well-respected, non-partisan figure with

a sterling track record as a professional military officer.

After PM Chuan Leekpai selected him to lead the Army in 1998,

Surayud undertook a meaningful series of military reforms

that served to professionalize and de-politicize the

uniformed ranks. During his tenure as Army Chief, Surayud

also managed to push back against Burmese incursions into

Thai territory, while ending Thai efforts to push Karen

refugees over the border. The CDRM has obviously reached out

to Surayud because he is one of the few individuals with the

credentials and prestige to unite the country in this

troubled period. Under the current circumstances, Surayud is

arguably the best person to head the interim civilian

government. He is trusted by the palace and the military,

and enjoys widespread respect across a broad spectrum of Thai

citizens because of his integrity and previous service. His

appointment would be a very positive development for Thailand

internally, as well as for Thai-U.S. relations, and we should

welcome it if and when it is announced.

BOYCE

Advertisements

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:15 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] a Wikileaks cable dated 28 September 2006, Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, who we have described in other posts as cheering for the end of Prime […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: