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08BANGKOK2302 MOTHERLAND PARTY LEADER ANNOUNCES WITHDRAWAL FROM GOVERNING COALITION

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“164114”,”7/30/2008 9:59″,”08BANGKOK2302″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK2243″,”VZCZCXRO9237

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DE RUEHBK #2302 2120959

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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 002302

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/30/2018

TAGS: PGOV, PINR, KDEM, TH

SUBJECT: MOTHERLAND PARTY LEADER ANNOUNCES WITHDRAWAL FROM

GOVERNING COALITION

 

REF: BANGKOK 2243 (PREDICTION OF UNITY GOVERNMENT)

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle, reason: 1.4

(b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti

publicly announced on July 29 the withdrawal of his

Motherland Party from the governing coalition. He appears to

have acted without the full authority of the party, however.

A reliable contact told us Suwit was bitter about his

imminent loss of his cabinet seat in the upcoming reshuffle.

Even if the Motherland Party defects in toto, Prime Minister

Samak Sundaravej\’s People\’s Power Party (PPP) has sufficient

allies to command majority support in the House. A Democrat

Party official told us his party was not in talks about

including Democrats in the reshuffled cabinet; the Democrats

would only join a \”government of national unity\” if

instructed to do so by the King. End Summary.

 

2. (U) Motherland Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister

Suwit Khunkitti held a press conference on July 29 to

announce that his party was withdrawing from the governing

coalition. Suwit cited the government\’s declared desire to

amend the constitution and the recent controversy over the

Preah Vihear temple as reasons for this move.

 

3. (C) We discussed Suwit\’s statement on July 30 with

Ekkaphap Polsue, a former Thai Rak Thai legislator informally

associated with the Motherland Party. Ekkaphap told us the

Motherland Party\’s executive board had made no formal

decision to withdraw from the governing coalition, and,

although Suwit claimed to have spoken on behalf of the party,

he appeared to lack the capacity to do so. Ekkaphap claimed

Suwit\’s statement stemmed from his disappointment after

learning that he would lose his cabinet seat in the upcoming

reshuffle.

 

4. (C) We spoke on July 30 with staff members from the

offices of the four Motherland Party cabinet members. Staff

members claimed that Deputy Interior Minister Sitthichai

Kowsurat (on an official trip abroad) and Information and

Communication Technology Minister Man Patthanothai (presiding

over a ceremonial event outside of the Ministry) were still

performing their official duties. Neither Suwit nor Deputy

Finance Minister Ranongrak Suwannachawee reported to their

offices on the morning of July 30, but it was unclear whether

they had formally submitted their resignations.

 

5. (C) Isra Sunthornvut, Secretary to Democrat Party Leader

Abhisit Vejjajiva, told us in a July 30 conversation that the

Democrat Party had not engaged in discussions with the

People\’s Power Party (PPP) about the possible inclusion of

Democrats in a Samak-led cabinet. Isra told us there were

currently no plans for the Democrats to join a \”government of

national unity\” (hypothesized in reftel), and it was

difficult for him to imagine the formation of such a cabinet.

Isra assured us that politicians would not come to such an

arrangment by themselves, although, if instructed to do so by

the palace, they would obey.

 

6. (C) Comment: We do not take at face value Suwit\’s claim

that he and fellow party members are breaking from the

government over policy differences; we believe the upcoming

cabinet shuffle\’s impact on personal interests offers a more

likely explanation. The Motherland Party holds 24 seats in

the 480-seat parliament, and, even if it were to defect in

toto, this move by itself would not significantly impede

PPP\’s ability to form a government.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 18, 2011 at 6:39 am

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