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

Archive for the ‘Election Fraud’ Category

06BANGKOK3277 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

leave a comment »

“65979”,”5/31/2006 8:50″,”06BANGKOK3277″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”

“,”This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003277

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPS (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

 

Classified By: ACTING POLITICAL COUNSELOR JAMES F. COLE. REASON 1.4 (B,

D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thailand\’s bipolar political disorder

remained stable Wednesday as caretaker Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party pushed to move on to a

new election while the political opposition remained focused

on using alleged irregularities in the April 2 vote to

destroy TRT. Thaksin\’s caretaker cabinet agreed on May 30 to

hold the next election on October 15, which would mean

that–for the first time since 2001–candidates would have a

short window to switch parties before the vote. Meanwhile,

the Criminal Court has agreed to accept an opposition

Democrat Party (DP) case accusing the Election Commission of

malfeasance. Newspaper headlines, however, focused on new,

leaked videotape footage that seems to support DP claims that

senior TRT officials colluded with \”micro-party\” candidates

in the April 2 election. The tapes have sent the TRT into

heavy spin mode, with at least one opposition newspaper

reporting that Thaksin vented his fury over the leaks in

yesterday\’s cabinet meeting. True to form, TRT is now

preparing a lawsuit charging the DP with hiring the micro

parties to \”frame\” TRT. This will likely be the last

bombshell before the King\’s anniversary celebration next

month forces a political time-out. End Summary.

 

ELECTION SET FOR OCTOBER 15

—————————

 

2. (SBU) The caretaker cabinet on Tuesday approved the

Election Commission\’s (EC) proposal to hold new House

elections on October 15. Given the long lead time until the

next vote, and the requirement that candidates be members of

their political party for at least 90 days prior to

registering for the race, this would be the first \”open

window\” for party switching since the new 90-day rule came

into effect in the 2001 vote. That window, however, would

close in the next two-three weeks. In the \”for what it\’s

worth\” category, Deputy TRT leader and caretaker Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan told reporters on Tuesday that no

TRT members had expressed a desire to leave the party, yet.

 

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST EC MOVES AHEAD

————————————

 

3. (SBU) In a boost to opposition efforts to force the

controversial EC to resign before any new elections, the

Criminal Court announced on May 30 that it will proceed with

a court case charging EC members with malfeasance. The case,

filed by the Democrat Party, contends that the four EC

members broke the law in allowing candidates in the April 2

vote to switch constituencies in the second round of voting

on April 23. (Note, a move that was widely seen as beneficial

to TRT. End Note.) The trial date has been set for June 19.

 

SMILE! YOU\’RE ON MOD CAMERA

—————————

 

4. (SBU) The cabinet and court\’s decisions were soon

overtaken by the release of photos allegedly showing Defense

Minister Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayyuthaya–who managed the

TRT campaign–meeting with leaders of the micro-parties at

the Ministry of Defense in March. DP Secretary-General

Suthep Thuagsuban provided the images to the Criminal Court

as evidence of his claim that TRT paid the smaller parties to

run in the April 2, in order to help TRT avoid having to get

20 percent of the votes in single-candidate constituencies.

 

5. (C) The initial TRT response to these charges was poorly

coordinated. MOD Permsec General Sirichai Thunyasiri told

reporters on Tuesday that the photos were indeed from MOD

cameras and that he was investigating how they were leaked.

Following a meeting with Thammarak, Sirichai added that

Thammarak denied any knowledge of the footage. Another

senior aide to Thammarak told reporters that the micro-party

leaders had sought a meeting with the Defense Minister, but

were turned down. According to this account, the man

resembling Thammarak in the photos is actually his

photographer. Deputy TRT spokesman Chatuporn Prompan

attempted a separate tack, suggesting that the micro-party

leaders had been paid by DP officials to \”set-up\” Thammarak;

indeed, TRT lawyers have prepared a lawsuit charging the DP

with just that. The Nation newspaper–often at the forefront

of anti-Thaksin reporting–reported Wednesday that the

kerfluffle had prompted the PM to demand Thammarak explain

himself in yesterday\’s cabinet meeting, saying \”why is it so

obvious? It is damning evidence…how can you come up with a

defense?\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) For the minority of Thai who still have the

energy/desire to follow politics, this new \”evidence\” merely

confirms the conventional wisdom that TRT worked with the

micro-parties in the April 2 vote. That said, it could form

the basis of a stronger case calling for the dissolution of

TRT or, at the least, force Thammarak to fall on his sword.

Either way, this episode is likely to be the last bombshell

before preparations for the King\’s 60th anniversary in June

force politics into a short, but fitful slumber.

BOYCE

“65979”,”5/31/2006 8:50″,”06BANGKOK3277″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003277

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPS (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

 

Classified By: ACTING POLITICAL COUNSELOR JAMES F. COLE. REASON 1.4 (B,

D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thailand\’s bipolar political disorder

remained stable Wednesday as caretaker Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party pushed to move on to a

new election while the political opposition remained focused

on using alleged irregularities in the April 2 vote to

destroy TRT. Thaksin\’s caretaker cabinet agreed on May 30 to

hold the next election on October 15, which would mean

that–for the first time since 2001–candidates would have a

short window to switch parties before the vote. Meanwhile,

the Criminal Court has agreed to accept an opposition

Democrat Party (DP) case accusing the Election Commission of

malfeasance. Newspaper headlines, however, focused on new,

leaked videotape footage that seems to support DP claims that

senior TRT officials colluded with \”micro-party\” candidates

in the April 2 election. The tapes have sent the TRT into

heavy spin mode, with at least one opposition newspaper

reporting that Thaksin vented his fury over the leaks in

yesterday\’s cabinet meeting. True to form, TRT is now

preparing a lawsuit charging the DP with hiring the micro

parties to \”frame\” TRT. This will likely be the last

bombshell before the King\’s anniversary celebration next

month forces a political time-out. End Summary.

 

ELECTION SET FOR OCTOBER 15

—————————

 

2. (SBU) The caretaker cabinet on Tuesday approved the

Election Commission\’s (EC) proposal to hold new House

elections on October 15. Given the long lead time until the

next vote, and the requirement that candidates be members of

their political party for at least 90 days prior to

registering for the race, this would be the first \”open

window\” for party switching since the new 90-day rule came

into effect in the 2001 vote. That window, however, would

close in the next two-three weeks. In the \”for what it\’s

worth\” category, Deputy TRT leader and caretaker Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan told reporters on Tuesday that no

TRT members had expressed a desire to leave the party, yet.

 

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST EC MOVES AHEAD

————————————

 

3. (SBU) In a boost to opposition efforts to force the

controversial EC to resign before any new elections, the

Criminal Court announced on May 30 that it will proceed with

a court case charging EC members with malfeasance. The case,

filed by the Democrat Party, contends that the four EC

members broke the law in allowing candidates in the April 2

vote to switch constituencies in the second round of voting

on April 23. (Note, a move that was widely seen as beneficial

to TRT. End Note.) The trial date has been set for June 19.

 

SMILE! YOU\’RE ON MOD CAMERA

—————————

 

4. (SBU) The cabinet and court\’s decisions were soon

overtaken by the release of photos allegedly showing Defense

Minister Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayyuthaya–who managed the

TRT campaign–meeting with leaders of the micro-parties at

the Ministry of Defense in March. DP Secretary-General

Suthep Thuagsuban provided the images to the Criminal Court

as evidence of his claim that TRT paid the smaller parties to

run in the April 2, in order to help TRT avoid having to get

20 percent of the votes in single-candidate constituencies.

 

5. (C) The initial TRT response to these charges was poorly

coordinated. MOD Permsec General Sirichai Thunyasiri told

reporters on Tuesday that the photos were indeed from MOD

cameras and that he was investigating how they were leaked.

Following a meeting with Thammarak, Sirichai added that

Thammarak denied any knowledge of the footage. Another

senior aide to Thammarak told reporters that the micro-party

leaders had sought a meeting with the Defense Minister, but

were turned down. According to this account, the man

resembling Thammarak in the photos is actually his

photographer. Deputy TRT spokesman Chatuporn Prompan

attempted a separate tack, suggesting that the micro-party

leaders had been paid by DP officials to \”set-up\” Thammarak;

indeed, TRT lawyers have prepared a lawsuit charging the DP

with just that. The Nation newspaper–often at the forefront

of anti-Thaksin reporting–reported Wednesday that the

kerfluffle had prompted the PM to demand Thammarak explain

himself in yesterday\’s cabinet meeting, saying \”why is it so

obvious? It is damning evidence…how can you come up with a

defense?\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) For the minority of Thai who still have the

energy/desire to follow politics, this new \”evidence\” merely

confirms the conventional wisdom that TRT worked with the

micro-parties in the April 2 vote. That said, it could form

the basis of a stronger case calling for the dissolution of

TRT or, at the least, force Thammarak to fall on his sword.

Either way, this episode is likely to be the last bombshell

before preparations for the King\’s 60th anniversary in June

force politics into a short, but fitful slumber.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

06BANGKOK2889 THAILAND UPDATE: ELECTION DATE DEBATED, THAKSIN TO RESUME DUTIES?

leave a comment »

“64202”,”5/16/2006 11:45″,”06BANGKOK2889″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 002889

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates, Elections – Thai

SUBJECT: THAILAND UPDATE: ELECTION DATE DEBATED, THAKSIN TO

RESUME DUTIES?

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton,

reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Election Commission tried to set

October 22 as the date for the new elections, but the leaders

of the three courts rejected the date — and the EC. They

called on the remaining three election commissioners to

resign, as commissioner General Charupat Ruangsuwan did on

May 15. TRT says that that Thaksin is ready to resume his

duties as caretaker prime minister, following his long

\”vacation\” to the US, Europe and Bangkok\’s swankiest shopping

mail and golf courses. The EC is likely to be the next

victim of Thailand\’s political conflict.as pressure mounts

for its resignation. End summary.

 

2. (U) The Election Commission (EC) proposed October 22 as

the date for the new elections. The EC met on May 15 with

representatives of the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party and

smaller parties to seek their views on the appropriate date;

the three main opposition parties and representatives of the

courts refused to attend. The opposition parties maintain

that the EC lacks the legitimacy to set a new election date,

but also told the press that they had no objection to the

date proposed. This date would give politicians time to

change parties or register a new party. (Candidates must be

members of a party for 90 days before they register as its

candidates.)

 

3. (U) The leaders of the three courts (Constitutional,

Administrative and Supreme) met on May 16 and rejected the

October 22 election date on the technical grounds that the EC

lacked a quorum at Monday\’s meeting. One of the four

commissioners, General Charupat Ruangsuwan, was not present

at the meeting to set the date, and reportedly has resigned

from the EC. The courts again strongly urged the rest of the

EC to resign as well. (If Charupat has resigned, the EC

cannot function. It is supposed to have five members, but

one died before the election. It now requires all four

members for a quorum, and today\’s resignation would leave it

with only three.)

 

4. (C) A Constitutional court judge told Polcouns on May 15

that the EC would surely be forced to step down eventually.

He noted that there were several more court cases pending

involving the EC, and these would provide the opportunity to

ratchet up the pressure. This included the possibility of

criminal charges against the election commissioners. One

(somewhat dramatic) journalist contact said that EC chairman

Wassana Puemlarp was under such stress that he might commit

suicide. (Comment: an extreme prediction, but one that

reflects the high level of very personal attacks particularly

against the EC Chairman, who has vociferously defended all

the EC\’s actions. End comment.)

 

5. (U) TRT held a party meeting today to discuss the

upcoming elections. A TRT representative responded to the

latest in the endless series of political lawsuits before

Thai courts: the Lawyers\’ Council are suing Thaksin for

failure to perform his duties. The Lawyers\’ Council claims

that the PM is essentially AWOL, collecting a salary while

not actually working. TRT replied that Thaksin was ready to

return to work provided that it would not cause divisions in

society.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: The EC is likely to be the next casualty

in Thailand\’s political warfare. The appointment of new

commissioners will be complicated and time-consuming, and

this may render moot any proposal to hold the election sooner

than October, even if there is support for this option.

Thaksin\’s opponents, meanwhile, continue to hammer away at

every chink in the PM\’s armor, piling on lawsuits and other

attacks. Thaksin has remained uncharacteristically quiet

throughout, and TRT has been careful to show deference to the

courts in line with the King\’s speech. This may get tougher

for TRT, as the courts decisions seem to be consistently

running against their interests.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

06BANGKOK2750 WHERE TO NOW IN THE WAKE OF COURT POLL DECISION?

leave a comment »

“63436”,”5/10/2006 10:37″,”06BANGKOK2750″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2688″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002750

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2016

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Elections – Thai, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: WHERE TO NOW IN THE WAKE OF COURT POLL DECISION?

 

REF: BANGKOK 2688 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH BOYCE. REASON: 1.4 (D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Observers across the political spectrum

are now speculating on when the Thai electorate will be

called back to the voting booths. As noted in reftel,

questions over the Election Commission\’s role and Caretaker

Prime Minister Thaksin\’s candidature loom large. Politicians

and other observers here are also looking at the potential

impact of the scheduling of the new polls. If delayed long

enough, the vote could even allow for some of Thaksin\’s party

members to switch to the opposition. End summary.

 

COURTS STEP OUT AFTER KING CALLS FOR SOLUTION TO ELECTION

IMPASSE

 

2. (C) As noted in reftel, on May 8 the Constitutional

Court announced that the April 2 general elections were

unconstitutional, the results null and that a new election

must be held for the lower house of Parliament. This

decision came in the wake of the King\’s April 25 speech in

which he publicly criticized the conduct of the elections and

instructed the courts to propose a solution to the issues

surrounding them. The King\’s statements likely served as a

significant motivator for the Court. In a salient part of

his speech, the King said that \”another point is whether it

was right to dissolve the House and call for snap election

within 30 days. There was no debate about this. If it is not

right, it must be corrected. Should the election be

nullified? You have the right to say what\’s appropriate or

not. If it\’s not appropriate, it is not to say the government

is not good. But as far as I am concerned, a one-party

election is not normal. The one candidate situation is

undemocratic.\”

 

QUESTIONS OF COURT JURISDICTION

 

3. (U) In giving its official verdict on last month\’s polls,

the Constitutional Court drew its legal authority to try and

adjudicate the case from Article 198 of the Constitution,

which specifies that \”In the case where the Ombudsman is of

the opinion that the provisions of the law, rules,

regulations or any act of any person under section 197(1)

begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsman

shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional

Court or Administrative Court for decision in accordance with

the procedure of the Constitutional Court or the law on the

procedure of the Administrative Court, as the case may be.

The Constitutional Court or Administrative Court, as the case

may be, shall decide the case submitted by the Ombudsman

without delay.\” The case against the polls was submitted to

the Constitutional Court by the Ombudsman, which had received

the petition from a group of university lecturers and the

PollWatch Foundation (an election monitoring group) Chairman.

 

TRT LEADERS SEND MIXED SIGNALS ON VOTE TIMING

 

4. (U) In public statement after the Constitutional Court

announced the nullification of the April 2 polls, Deputy

Prime Minister Dr. Wissanu Krua-Ngam, stated that there is no

time frame for the next election date because the current

situation is unprecedented. Consequently, in Wissanu\’s view,

the fixing of the next election date is not confined by the

60-day requirement for an election after Parliament\’s

dissolution set by the Constitution. But House Speaker Dr.

Bhokin and other TRT legal advisors told reporters that the

60-day requirement applies to the next election because the

Royal Decree to organize the April 2 election remains valid,

saying that the Constitutional Court only nullified the

election — but not the Royal Decree.

 

PUBLIC APPEARS TO ACCEPT THE COURT\’S VERDICT

 

5. (U) The public reaction, save for some public

expressions of joy by anti-Thaksin groups, has been low-key.

There have been no significant protests by TRT supporters.

Polls conducted by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University and

ABAC indicate a generally positive sentiment among the public

on the ruling. In answer to a question on how they felt

about the ruling, 48 percent replied \”no strong feelings,\” 41

percent said \”positive\” and about 11 percent replied

negatively. Asked whether the ruling would improve Thai

politics, 47 percent said \”Yes,\” 45 percent said \”No change\”

and 6 percent indicated \”things will get worse.\” On the fate

of the EC, 52 percent said that the members should resign and

48 percent said they should not.

 

6. (U) There remain petitions at the Constitutional Court,

the Election Commission of Thailand, the Ombudsman, and the

Administrative Court challenging the election. The ruling by

the Constitutional Court makes it likely that most, but not

all, of these petitions will be dropped. The Constitutional

Court declined to consider in its recent ruling charges that

small parties were bribed to run as opponents of the TRT,

giving no reason. (Note: The EC Chairman said recently that

the Commission is examining these charges; the Administrative

Court, where these charges are also reportedly being

examined, remains silent. End note.)

 

DEMOCRAT PARTY WELCOMES THE COURT DECISION

 

7. (C) Democrat Party (DP) Spokesman Ong-Ard Klampaiboon

told us that the DP welcomed the Constitutional Court\’s

decision to nullify the April 2 election and was ready to

contest the new election. He foresaw two optional dates for

the next election, with the first possibility being in early

July with the candidate application taking place in the

middle of June (after the King\’s accession to the throne

celebration) and the alternative option being in August, with

candidate application in July, depending on the choice of the

government and the ECT. He noted that the DP favored having

the poll in August, past the 90-day deadline (Under Section

107 of the Constitution, a candidate in an election must be a

member of one particular political party for a period of not

less than 90 days prior to registering to run) so as to allow

defectors from the Thai Rak Thai to join the contest. Rival

Thai Rak Thai politicians, said Ong-ard, naturally preferred

the first option, because Article 107 would keep potential

defectors within party ranks. DP Secretary-General Suthep

Thaugsuban called for denying the incumbent ECT a role in

organizing the next election and pressed for selection of a

new ECT in its place by virtue of Article 138 of the

Constitution.

 

8. (C) Prof. Prinya Thewanarumitkun, a law lecturer from

Thammasat University, underlined what he saw as the need for

a new royal decree for a new election. The Constitutional

Court\’s decision on the annulment of the April 2 election, in

his opinion, has nullified the original royal decree; thus,

the Government needs to issue a new royal decree to have a

new election. And since the new royal decree would be based

on the dissolution of the House, a new election must be held

within 60 days of the day of the issuing of new royal decree

(Section 116). The question is when the Thaksin Government

will issue this new decree. Prinya\’s impression is that the

Government will issue the decree to allow a new election as

soon as possible after the royal accession anniversary events

in June.

 

9. (C) However, to make a new election more democratic,

Prinya believes that the Government should seek to ease the

Article 107-stipulated 90-day party membership rule by

issuing a new royal decree for a new election that allows MPs

to change parties before the vote. Prof. Prinya explained

that in order to make the 90-day rule inapplicable, the

Government can specify the new election date (90 days, give

or take 2 or 3 days, from now or from when it deems

appropriate) and wait for 30 days after that to issue a new

royal decree for a new election to be held at the end of the

60-day period. In doing so, MPs or members of political

parties planning to run in the new election can enter this

contest under the banner of a new political party without

breaking the 90-day rule. (Note: This could lead to some

disgruntled TRT members defecting to the opposition, possibly

reducing the government\’s position in Parliament. Most

observers believe that TRT will contest the new elections

relatively intact, however. End note.)

 

SOME TRT MEMBERS GETTING RESTLESS?

 

10. (C) Dr. Likhit Thirawekhin, currently a TRT Party List

MP and ex-political science professor of Thammasat

University, said on May 9 that, in his view, the

Constitutional Court\’s ruling is clear and legitimate. Dr.

Likhit opined that the new election decree must be enacted by

the government in consultation with the Election Commission.

The new election date should be set within 60 days of the

announcement of the new election decree. In case the EC

quits, the election process and date will be prolonged until

the new EC is set up. Dr. Likhit also noted to us that he

and some other TRT members are monitoring the situation and

election schedule since they are considering leaving the

party. He added that some TRT members are fed up with

Thaksin\’s \”no consultation style\” of leadership.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:13 am

06BANGKOK2688 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULS APRIL 2 POLLS

leave a comment »

“63140”,”5/8/2006 10:01″,”06BANGKOK2688″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2646″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 002688

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2016

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Elections – Thai, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULS APRIL 2 POLLS

 

REF: BANGKOK 2646 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION ALEX ARVIZU. REASON: 1.4 (D)

 

1. (C) Summary: In several split decisions, the Thai

Constitutional Court ruled that the April 2 general elections

were unconstitutional, the results null and that a new

election must be held for the lower house of Parliament. The

timing of the new polls is uncertain. With the incumbent

Election Commission discredited in the eyes of much of the

nation the question now is whether it has sufficient

credibility to run the next round of elections and, if not,

how a successor body will selected. There is also the

looming question of the impact of the Court rulings on

Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin\’s possible return to head

the government in the next parliament. End summary.

 

COURT RULES LAST MONTH\’S POLLS VOID

 

2. (U) Judge Ura Wangomklang announced May 8 that, in a 8-6

split decision, the Thai Constitutional Court had ruled that

the April 2 general elections were unconstitutional. In two

separate 9 to 5 decisions, the Court ruled that the poll

results were null and void and that a new election must be

held for the lower house of Parliament. The multiple

decisions were reportedly based on the Court\’s determination

that the election was set too soon after Parliament\’s

dissolution, and that the positioning of the voting booths at

the polling stations violated the confidentiality of the

voters.

 

WHEN THE NEW ELECTIONS? UNCHARTED TERRITORY

 

3. (SBU) According to the Constitution, an election must be

held within 60 days of the Parliament\’s dissolution. But

this is a case of an election held within 60 days of

Parliament\’s dissolution being voided. The question of

exactly when the new polls are to be held remains uncertain.

It nominally remains for the Election Commission to decide.

 

4. (SBU) But the Election Commission itself is an issue.

The EC, mandated to supervise the polls, has lost a good deal

of its credibility in the wake of the court decisions.

Already accused by many of its detractors of being in the

pockets of the TRT, the EC\’s supervision of the next polls

will probably invite a crescendo of protests. If its current

members resign, an act many observers say is imminent, it is

unclear what needs to be done for a new EC to be set up, a

necessary precondition for the next round of election

preparations to begin in earnest.

 

WHAT WILL THAKSIN DO?

 

5. (C) Comment: And then there is the question of Thaksin.

Reftel reports the May 3 comments of Thaksin\’s chief policy

advisor, Pansak Vinyaratn, that the caretaker Prime Minister

would run again in the next election if the Constitutional

Court annulled the April 2 election. This would, in the eyes

of many, run counter to Thaksin\’s promise, when he stepped

down on April 4, not to return as Prime Minister during the

\”next parliament.\” Pansak opined, however, that a new

election would free him to come back. The opposition

People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is already threatening

to take its objections back out onto the streets if Thaksin

reneges on his promise. As such, the Court\’s May 8 decisions

are likely to nudge the country back into another round of

political uncertainty.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:11 am

06BANGKOK2567 COURTS LEAN TOWARD NULLIFICATION; TRT FIGHTS BACK

leave a comment »

“62459”,”5/2/2006 9:34″,”06BANGKOK2567″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002567

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates, Elections – Thai

SUBJECT: COURTS LEAN TOWARD NULLIFICATION; TRT FIGHTS BACK

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On May 1, a justice of the Central

Administrative Court indicated that the April MP elections

would likely be annulled. He expected a ruling on the key

cases within a week to ten days. However, the ruling Thai

Rak Thai party is marshaling its forces to oppose

nullification. Even if they successfully beat the current

odds and salvage this election, they may do themselves

lasting damage with the voters — defying the King, whose

strong criticism of the elections started the courts on the

path to nullification. TRT also foreshadowed a come-back for

Thaksin, saying if the elections are nullified, Thaksin\’s

promise to sit out a round is also off. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Polcouns met May 1 with Vishnu Varunyou, Deputy Chief

Justice of the Central Administrative Court. Vishnu

discussed the status of about 10 lawsuits brought before the

Administrative court concerning the conduct of the April MP

elections. (The Central Administrative Court issued the

injunction on April 28 forestalling the last round of the

elections, and it has jurisdiction over several other cases.

There are also several other cases filed in the Supreme Court

and the Constitutional Court.) Although Vishnu stopped just

short of stating openly that the elections would be annulled,

he made clear that it was his expectation. \”It\’s in the

air,\” he said; everyone expects that the courts will annul

the elections. Now, the courts just have to decide what

reasoning they can use to support the decision once they

formally reach it. Vishnu thought that the rulings on key

cases would be issued within about a week to 10 days.

 

NO SHORTAGE OF CASES

——————–

 

3. (C) According to Vishnu, only three of the court cases

before the Administrative court at this time could lead to

the nullification of the elections. These were brought by

the opposition Democrat Party, by the Law Society, and by

NGOs. They each concern the original decree which dissolved

the Parliament and set the date for the elections 37 days

later. The law says that snap elections must be held within

60 days, but gives no minimum period. At the time the

elections were called, there were many complaints that the 37

day deadline was too short to permit opposition parties to

organize and campaign. The government countered that the

elections had to be held quickly to permit the new government

to be installed before the very important celebrations in

June for the King\’s highly auspicious sixtieth anniversary on

the throne. Once the opposition boycotted, this issue

appeared to become moot, but it is back now with a vengeance.

 

4. (C) The other issues before the courts, including cases

about permitting new candidates to register for the second

and third rounds, and the re-positioning of the voting booths

(which led to a lack of ballot secrecy) could not be grounds

for annulling the elections. According to Vishnu, these could

only be grounds for holding a re-vote with the same

candidates, after correcting the problems the court would

identify.

 

DISSOLVE TRT?

————-

 

5. (C) The other hot case has been brought by the Democrat

Party to the Constitutional Court. In that case, the

Democrats repeat their allegation that high-ranking members

of the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party paid microparties to

register candidates so the TRT would not be the only

candidate in many constituencies. Sole candidates had to win

20 percent of the total eligible vote, a bar too high in many

districts in which TRT is unpopular. With an opponent, a

simple majority of votes cast wins. The Democrats claim to

have good evidence, including eye-witness testimony,

implicating the Minister of Defense and other senior TRT

officials. The Election Commission has already announced

that at least one of the microparties that admitted

falsifying documents to register candidates should be

dissolved. The Democrats want the courts to find that TRT

should also be dissolved. This seems a highly unlikely

outcome, especially from the Constitutional Court, believed

to lean toward TRT. However, it is difficult to rule

anything out at this point.

 

JURISDICTION QUESTIONS

———————-

 

6. (C) Vishnu explained that it had been difficult for the

courts to grapple with the problems of these elections in

part because the Election Commission has very strong

authority to conduct the voting as it sees fit. Both the

1997 Constitution and a 2003 Constitutional Court ruling give

the EC a broad mandate that appears to preclude most

juridical review of its decisions. Vishnu said that this was

due to past experience, in which the courts had been

ill-equipped to handle legal challenges to EC decisions, and

had been unable to resolve issues in a timely fashion (a

general problem for the courts here.) Therefore, the new

constitution limited the courts\’ authority over the EC.

Thus, the courts had ducked several cases brought earlier in

the elections claiming they had no jurisdiction. This is the

background to the King\’s repeated admonitions to the court in

his speech last week: \”I appeal to you to look into this

issue carefully to see whether it involves the country\’s

administration. Do your best. If you cannot discharge your

duties, you have to resign…\”

 

TRT FIGHTS BACK

—————

 

7. (C) Illustrating the problem, the EC is filing a

countersuit against the Administrative Court, claiming that

the court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the EC\’s

conduct of the elections. And it is just beginning to dawn on

the ruling Thai Rak Thai party (TRT) that their 480 or so

parliamentary seats may be in jeopardy. Several party

members have been quoted in the press this week warning

against nullification. A senior official reportedly said

that if this happens, elected MPs should have the right to

sue for compensation. \”A candidate carries the 1.5 million

baht (about USD40,000) per person campaign costs, so we

should ask lawyers who we can sue and who takes

responsibility for the damage.\” (Comment: Since most of the

TRT candidates ran unopposed, one could ask why the campaign

cost so much. End comment.) Another TRT MP threatened a TRT

boycott of new elections. (Comment: unlikely. End comment.)

 

8. (SBU) TRT members have also raised questions about

caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin\’s \”political break.\” Deputy

PM Chidchai told the press that, if the elections are

annulled, it\’s a whole new ballgame, and Thaksin\’s promise to

sit out one round could be reconsidered. Chidchai

subsequently walked back these remarks, but other TRT

officials have also raised this possibility. Caretaker Prime

Minister Thaksin, who returned quietly from his international

travel over the weekend, has so far been silent about all

these questions.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) After the King\’s April 25 speech, the momentum was

all behind the move to annul the elections, and the courts

moved with surprising swiftness. TRT and its supporters are

now gathering up their forces for a counterattack. They may

still be able to salvage the elections, but this could be a

losing strategy in the long run The King\’s comments were

balanced and avoided pointing the finger directly at any one

player in the election drama. However, they made it clear

that the King had grave concerns about the elections. TRT

could suffer serious political damage if it openly defies the

King and champions these elections, especially as the

opposition has been quick to accept the King\’s

recommendations and has said they will run in the replacement

elections without any preconditions.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

06BANGKOK2502 ANNULLING THE ELECTIONS? THE COURTS DECIDE TO THINK ABOUT IT

leave a comment »

“62181”,”4/28/2006 11:10″,”06BANGKOK2502″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2425″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

281110Z Apr 06

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002502

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates, SNAP Elections

SUBJECT: ANNULLING THE ELECTIONS? THE COURTS DECIDE TO

THINK ABOUT IT

 

REF: BANGKOK 02425

 

Classified By: Charge d\’Affaires a.i. Alex A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (d

)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The chairs of the three high courts met

April 28 to consider solutions to the political dilemmas

posed by the April elections for members of parliament. They

were responding to the very strong words of the respected

King, who had delivered tough criticisms of the election

during speeches on April 25. The courts today disappointed

some in the opposition, who had hoped that they would annul

the troubled elections on the spot. The courts only pledged

that they would consider the many cases now before them

calling for nullification or other measures, that they would

do so expeditiously, and that they would consult together to

ensure their decisions were consistent. This was immediately

followed by a decision of the Administrative Court suspending

the final round of voting scheduled for Saturday. This

Administrative Court decision tends to support the view of

many here who believe that the courts will eventually annul

the elections, but the way forward is still not clear. If

there are new elections after three or four months, Thaksin

may decide that his \”political break\” is over, and try to

come back as prime minister. If the courts do not annul the

election, this controversy will result in an even further

weakened mandate for this Parliament. END SUMMARY

 

2. (C) In response to the King\’s message on April 25, the

chairs of the three high courts met today to consider

solutions to the problems posed by the parliamentary

elections (reftel). They announced after a meeting on Friday

morning (April 28) that each court will work on the

election-related cases under its jurisdiction, and that they

will resolve them in a speedy fashion, but gave no deadline.

They also said that the courts would consult together in

order to ensure that the cases would be resolved in a

consistent fashion. This announcement disappointed some who

had hoped for a quick decision to annul the vote. The

Administrative Court subsequently issued an injunction

suspending the final round of voting scheduled for Saturday,

pending a decision on whether to annul the entire series of

election in April. The April 28 decision tends to support the

view of many that the courts will ultimately decide to annul

the vote.

 

COURTS AT ODDS

————–

 

3. (C) According to leaked accounts in the press, the

courts held differing views on the problem going in to the

meeting. The Constitutional Court is generally considered to

be lined up with the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. It

reportedly favors opening the new Parliament regardless of

the complaints about the election procedures. (TRT leaders

have also publicly supported that view.) The final round

vote on Saturday would have gotten TRT close to the full

quorum. Because the Electoral Commission (EC) opened up

registration for new candidates again this week for

Saturday\’s election, all 14 races in the remaining districts

were multi-candidate. They should have produced \”winners\”

in each case, even if they took the seat with only a few

thousand votes. This would have left only one unfilled seat,

since one TRT party list candidate has dropped out to join

the monkhood. Until the Administrative Court injunction

today, it might have been plausible to convene the slightly

undersized Parliament, but this choice appear off the menu

for now.

 

4. (C) The Supreme Court appears to support annulling the

elections, but it may have a weaker claim to authority over

the issue. The Administrative Court\’s position is less

clear; it appears to have a stronger claim to jurisdiction

over some of the key issues, and most of the lawsuits filed

against the elections are before this court now. These

lawsuits call for annulling the election and even for

annulling the decree dissolving the previous Parliament,

based on legal and procedural errors. For example, one suit

claims that the Constitution limits the circumstances under

which the Parliament can be dissolved, and that those

conditions were not met. Others claim that the voters\’

constitutionally guaranteed rights to secrecy were violated

by the new position of the voting booths, which allowed the

voters\’ ballots to be seen. Other suits claim that the

registration of new candidates after the first round of

voting was illegal.

 

5. (C) Before the King\’s speech, it appeared unlikely that

any of these suits would actually result in the annulling of

the elections, but now it is possible. In Bangkok, the

so-called \”Bangkok elite\”, the anti-Thaksin press and

opposition seem to think that this will happen. The NSC

Secretary-General told us that the King made it \”very clear\”

 

SIPDIS

that these elections were \”not acceptable.\” (Comment: \”Very

clear\” is stretching it, but it\’s all relative. End comment)

Political party contacts are already talking about the

likelihood of new elections in July or August, to give time

for people to switch parties.

 

LIMBO

—–

 

6. (C) The justices\’ very broad assurances leave a lot of

questions unanswered. There are several possible ways

forward from this point. If the next round of the elections

is not held, it does not appear that that Parliament can

legally convene. The current caretaker government would

presumably continue in power until the lawsuits are resolved,

and the country would be without a House of Representatives

until the courts examine all the cases. Political limbo

would likely continue.

 

WHAT ABOUT THAKSIN?

——————

 

7. (C) The caretaker Prime Minister is traveling abroad and

has made no public comment since the King\’s speech. There is

a lot of speculation about how the courts\’ eventual decision

will affect his pledge to \”take a break\” from politics for

the next session of parliament. Thaksin\’s explanation

emphasized that he was stepping aside in large part out of

respect for the King, to ensure that the country could

concentrate on the upcoming celebrations for his 60th

anniversary in June. If there are new elections in, say,

August, Thaksin conceivably could decide that break time was

over. He could plan to return as PM if TRT won its expected

majority (although the opposition parties would almost

certainly do much better than they did in 2005, particularly

in Bangkok and the central region.)

 

COMMENT — THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US

————————————-

 

8. (C) The repercussions of the King\’s speech are still

playing out. More information about the courts\’ views should

come out in the near future, together with at least a

notional timeline for the courts\’ decisions. If the courts

rule that the elections should not be annulled, there will be

considerable backlash; the controversy will further erode the

legitimacy of a parliament that already suffers from an

extraordinarily weak claim to a mandate. If they annul the

vote, we\’re largely back to where we started in February.

 

ARVIZU

 

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:03 am

06BANGKOK2425 THE KING SAYS, IT’S A MESS

with one comment

“61809”,”4/26/2006 10:55″,”06BANGKOK2425″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK1872|06BANGKOK2370|06BANGKOK2425”,

“VZCZCXRO5097

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #2425/01 1161055

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 261055Z APR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8144

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002425

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THE KING SAYS, IT\’S A MESS

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 02370

B. BANGKOK 01872

 

Classified By: Charge d\’Affaires Alex A. Arvizu reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday gave two

of the most direct and to-the-point speeches in recent years

to the newly sworn-in judges of the Administrative and

Supreme Courts. In these speeches, the King questioned the

democratic nature of the April 2 general elections as well as

the \”correctness\” of dissolving Parliament and calling for

snap elections in the first place. He reminded the

Administrative Court that it is their job to consider these

issues, and opened the possibility of nullifying the

elections. He further asserted that invoking Article 7 of

the Constitution to have the royally-appointed Prime Minister

would be undemocratic, The King therefore called on the

courts and other institutions to work together to resolve the

current political chaos. Top justices at the three high

courts (Supreme, Administrative and Constitutional) will meet

on Friday to propose a way \”out of the woods.\” Opposition

forces are chastened by the King\’s strong rejection of their

call for him to name the next Prime Minister, but welcome

some of the criticisms of the election process. End Summary.

 

DOOR CREEPS OPEN FOR NULLIFYING THE ELECTION

——————————————–

 

2. (U) In his first speech of the night to the judges of the

Administrative Court, the King asserted that \”it is

impossible for a democratic election to have only one party

and one candidate. This is undemocratic.\” He further

questioned why no one discussed whether dissolving the

Parliament and calling for a snap election within thirty days

was the \”correct\” decision in the first place. If not, he

suggested, one would need to \”solve the problem,\” including

\”perhaps nullifying the elections.\”

 

ENOUGH WITH THE HOT POTATOES ALREADY!

————————————

 

3. (SBU) The King warned the Administrative Court that it

should not evade its responsibilities. If \”you cannot do it,

then it should be you who resign, not the government, for

failing to perform your duties.\” (Comment: The appears to be

a dig at the decisions by several courts to duck tough cases

connected to the election by saying that they lack

jurisdiction over the issues. End comment.)

 

4. (U) The King also spoke to the new members of the Supreme

Court, delivering a similar message. In both speeches the

King expressed his strong disagreement with the opposition\’s

call to invoke Article 7 of the Constitution. The King

stated that electing the new Prime Minister (PM) should be up

to Parliament. He told the Supreme Court that he disagreed

with opening the House unless all 500 MP seats are filled.

\”Now, the House of Representatives cannot function because it

does not have 500 members.\” The problem is how to make the

House work.\” He then explained that the opposition is \”wrong

to cite Article 7,\” as the \”article refers to the full effect

of the constitutional monarchy. It does not permit the king

to do whatever he wishes.\” And by doing so he would

\”overstep his mark, and do something beyond his authority.\”

And \”that\’s not democracy.\”

 

COURTS MUST WORK TOGETHER TO CLEAN UP THE MESS

——————————————— –

 

5. (U) The King stressed that the current political state is

quite a \”mess,\” and that for him to intervene would only make

it messier. He called on the three courts (Constitutional,

Administrative, and Supreme Courts) to work together to

\”urgently decide, otherwise the country would collapse.\” Top

judges of these three courts announced today that they will

meet for discussions this Friday. The Supreme Court

secretary-general said that the Supreme Court justices will

 

SIPDIS

seek common ground among themselves during a meeting on

Thursday, before submitting their joint opinion to the

combined meeting. He said that the justices intend to

provide an solution to lead the country \”out of the woods.\”

 

ONE BIG SLAP

————

 

6. (C) One Democrat party contact said, \”off the record\”

that the King\’s speech was a slap in the face to all the

 

BANGKOK 00002425 002 OF 002

 

political players. \”It\’s like the King lined us up and got

us all with one big slap,\” he said. Now each side will try

to pick out the elements in the speech favorable to its

position. For the opposition, they will appreciate the

criticism of the undemocratic nature of the elections, and

the implied criticism of the decision to dissolve Parliament

in the first place. For Thai Rak Thai, they can highlight

the rebuke to the opposition for trying to force the King to

name a new prime minister. They may also say that it was the

opposition\’s fault, with their boycott, that TRT was the

only party contesting. Regarding the question of annulling

the election, the Democrat representative said, the party was

now in a quandary. They had called for the elections to be

annulled with the idea that the King would name an interim

Prime Minister. If the elections are annulled and the King

won\’t name a PM, then it is unclear what would happen next.

He still clung to the hope that the King might yet accept the

responsibility if the meeting on Friday of the three courts\’

justices resulted in a request from them for him to do so.

The People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) issued a statement

saying that they would accept the King\’s view and seek

constitutional solutions to the crisis. Opposition parties

were meeting Wednesday to come up with a formal reaction to

the speech.

 

BINGO

———-

 

8. (C) Meanwhile, the Election Commission may have resolved

the quorum problem. It appears that microparty candidates

have registered for all the remaining 14 races in the South.

It is not clear whether all of them are qualified, but with

only two days until the elections, it will be difficult to

push through disqualifications. This means that these 14

seats should be filled — perhaps by these Lilliputian

opponents. This still leaves the parliament one person

short, as one of the party list candidates on the TRT list

withdrew from the race and became a monk. According to some

sources, however, the EC may argue that he is still

technically on the TRT list and that his withdrawal was not

valid. Whether he leaves the monastery to come to the

Parliament or not, they may certify his election.

 

COMMENT: ANOTHER FINE MESS YOU\’VE GOTTEN US INTO

——————————————— —

 

8. (C) The King\’s statements have tossed everything up in

the air, and it will be a few days before we see where they

come down. Press coverage has tended to focus on the King\’s

refusal to be dragged into naming a prime minister, but that

was not news to us. (ref B) His very strong statements

opening his remarks at the Administrative Court, and his

directive to the judges to come up with a solution, were more

startling. It is hard to imagine the courts really deciding

that these elections should be annulled, and even harder to

imagine exactly what would follow to fill the vacuum this

would create. TRT may try to seize on the King\’s insistence

on full quorum, which now looks like it might be achievable,

and ignore the rest of his criticisms. Unlike the

Constitutional Court however, (with its track record of

deferring to the Prime Minister), the Supreme and

Administrative Courts generally enjoy a good reputation.

With the King\’s imprimatur to find a solution, they may feel

empowered to propose a bold plan to sort out this extremely

messy situation. They have a tough job to do.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:01 am