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08BANGKOK1897 OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR PM’S RESIGNATION

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“158851”,”6/19/2008 11:16″,”08BANGKOK1897″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK1878″,”VZCZCXRO3089

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DE RUEHBK #1897/01 1711116

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INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6074

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4711

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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001897

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2018

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, TH

SUBJECT: OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR PM\’S RESIGNATION

 

REF: BANGKOK 1878

 

Classified By: CDA a.i. James F. Entwistle, reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Anti-government protesters, using hard-line

rhetoric, are threatening to march on Government House on

June 20, a move that is likely to be met by stiff resistance

from the police. Meanwhile, the opposition Democrat Party

has tried to bring the debate to the Parliament, filing a

no-confidence motion against the PM and other ministers, but

the government is so far claiming that there is no time in

the current special session to permit a no-confidence debate.

This leaves opponents no place to go but to the streets to

continue their efforts to oust the PM and if possible bring

down the government. Demonstrators may hope that recent

events, particularly economic difficulties, have so weakened

the PM that he can be brought down by pressure from the

streets. They may find, however, that the unpredictable Samak

will not go without a fight. End summary.

 

ON THE STREETS

————–

 

2. (C) The People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announced

June 17 that it would again try to march on Government House

on June 20, and rally there until Prime Minister Samak

Sundaravej resigns. The PAD rally continues to draw steady

crowds of perhaps 5-10,000, blocking a major intersection at

the Makhawan bridge, about a kilometer from Government House,

where protesters have been camped out since May 25. PAD has

kept in the media spotlight with its \”roving demonstrations\”

– sending out groups of about 2-5,000 to protest at various

sites around town (such as the Foreign Ministry, and the

Election Commission). Announcing another attempt to reach

Government House, however, is quite provocative, as the

government has made clear its determination to prevent

protesters from besieging the seat of government. Rhetoric

from the PAD is fanning fears of violence, as PAD leaders

Sonthi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimeaung show no sign of any

willingness to negotiate or compromise.

 

3. (C) The government is also dealing with a range of smaller

economic protests from various kinds of farmers (garlic

farmers, sticky rice farmers and indebted farmers have all

protested, with some groups reportedly coming into Bangkok

during the course of this week). Truckers have protested the

high cost of fuel. This week, senior members of the

State-Owned Enterprise Unions have said that their unions

will support the PAD, and even threatened industrial action,

such as cutting power supplies, if the government uses force

against the demonstrators. (Note: it is unclear how much

support these leaders have within their unions and whether

they could successfully orchestrate such a disruption. End

note.)

 

AND IN THE PARLIAMENT

———————

 

4. (SBU) Meanwhile, the Democrat Party (DP) on June 18 filed

no-confidence motions against Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

and seven other cabinet members (full list in para 6),

including the Foreign Minister and leading members of the

economic team. The DP alleged broad mismanagement of

governmental affairs and criticized Samak for, among other

matters, serving the interests of former politicians (read:

principally former PM Thaksin). Ostensibly, the Foreign

Minister, who previously served as Thaksin\’s lead lawyer, is

targeted primarily for his handling of the Preah Vihear

temple controversy (reftel). So far, the government is

insisting that there is no time available to hold the

no-confidence debate during the current extraordinary session

of parliament, and a DP official told us he considered it

highly unlikely that the no-confidence debate would take

place during the current session, which is focused on passage

of a national budget and is scheduled to end on June 28.

There is other parliamentary maneuvering afoot as well,

including a move by a group of Senators to compel the

ministers to appear to answer questions, and a possible joint

motion by the House opposition and sympathetic senators to

force another special session in July for the no-confidence

debate. The government opposes all of these options.

 

COMMENT

 

BANGKOK 00001897 002 OF 002

 

——-

 

5. (C) The DP, which is the sole opposition party, has 164

seats in the 480-seat parliament; it is difficult to imagine

sufficient defections from the governing coalition to provide

majority support for the no-confidence motion. The

government\’s die-hard refusal to permit a debate in the

Parliament may turn out to be counter-productive, in that

parliamentary debate could be a safety valve, allowing the

opposition to let off some steam under circumstances that

would probably not really endanger the government. If this

option continues to be blocked, it may fuel the street

protests. Three weeks ago, PM Samak caused a high spike in

tensions with his threat to disperse the demonstrators. PAD

has now responded in kind, causing a flurry of concern with

their threat to confront police and march on the one place in

the city they know they\’ll be blocked from going. They are

gambling that PM Samak is weak enough, especially given the

lukewarm support within his own party, to be brought down by

pressure from the street. They may find, however, that the

tough old PM will not go without a fight. End comment.

 

6. (U) The full list of Cabinet members named in the

no-confidence motion is:

– Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

– Deputy PM and Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee;

– Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan;

– Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung;

– Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama;

– Justice Minister Somphong Amornwiwat;

– Transportation Minister Santi Promphat; and

– Deputy Transportation Minister Songsak Thongsri.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 16, 2011 at 6:16 am

Posted in Cambodia, Confidential, PAD

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