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Alleged military coup in progress in Thailand (UPDATE)

by Gjermund E Jansen Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 07:16:49 AM EST

Map of Thailand
It is rumoured that as much as 10 tanks have moved in on the governmental building in Bangkok in what is believed to be a military coup unfolding.  It is said that at least 20-50 soldiers have entered the building and demanded that the police guards inside lay down their arms.  

In an effort to quell the coup in its infancy, the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, attending a United Nations summit in New York at the moment, sacked the Thai military commander, Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, and ordered troops not to "move illegally".  He urged the armed forces chiefs to report to acting Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya while declaring a state of emergency, but the message seemed to have been cut off according to the online news site China view.  

The soldiers that stormed the government building, said to be loyal to the deposed military commander, have at the moment occupied the Prime Ministers office and according to a recent statement on Thai television The Thai armed forces and national police chiefs have set up a commission to decide on political reforms.

UPDATE Below the fold

The written statement relayed by all television channels, said the armed forces and police were in control of Bangkok, which remained peaceful, and that a "Council of Administrative Reform" with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance.

Stocks dropped suddenly after the military coup against the country's prime minister became known.

Traders watching Thailand closely are certain to remember how trouble in the kingdom has had worldwide implications in the past: having The Asia currency crisis that erupted in 1997 in mind, which began with the devaluation of the Thai baht and then snowballed into an international economic downturn.

The Thai Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thailand saw a series of military coups d'état up until the 1980s but has since progressed towards democracy.  The current Prime Minister entered politics in late 1994 and was appointed Foreign Minister in December 1994 as a non-MP minister.  Thaksin, being appointed the new leader for Palang Dharma Party (PDP) ran for election for the first time in July 1995, winning a parliamentary seat from Bangkok.  After resigning as the leader of PDP he founded the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party in 1998 Thaksin won a sweeping victory in the January 2001 elections, the first election held under the People's Constitution of 1997.

Even though Thailand's last military coup was 15 years ago, speculation about military intervention has been rife, with motorists calling traffic radio stations last week after tanks were spotted rolling down streets of the capital.

It is not yet crystal clear whether the Thai King Bhumibol is supporting this alleged military coup, but if this is to be the case then I fear that the chances of Thaksin returning to the country as Thailand's Prime Minister is rather slim.

According to the latest developments it seems as if the newly formed "Council of Administrative Reform" now formally has dissmissed the democratically elected government of Thailand and revoked the new constitution. The online site the Standard reports;

An army general, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said that Army Commander-in-Chief General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin had used the military to take over power from the prime minister. He said troops were moved from the western province of Kanchanaburi to stage the coup. He said the coup makers arrested Deputy Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit and Defense Minister Thammarak Isaragura na Ayuthaya - two close loyalists of Thaksin - and that Chitchai agreed to resign.

"The armed forces commander and the national police commander have successfully taken over Bangkok and the surrounding area in order to maintain peace and order. There has been no struggle," the announcement said. "We ask for the cooperation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience."

This article is also available at Bitsofnews.com.

What is the motivation for a coup?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:36:58 PM EST
From wikipedia

The apparent coup followed months of rumours about unrest in the Thai armed forces and possible coup plots. In July 2006, around a hundred middle-ranking army officers said to be supporters of Thaksin were reassigned by the army high command, fuelling rumour that the army was divided between supporters and opponents of the Prime Minister. The coup was the first since Thailand returned to democracy in 1992 following an earlier coup.[8] High-ranked civil servants are ordered to report to the council while government offices and banks will be closed on September 20 [9].
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:41:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not a motivation... and this is too vague
Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai said of the events, "As politicians, we do not support any kind of coup, but during the past five years, the government of Thaksin created several conditions that forced the military to stage the coup. Thaksin has caused the crisis in the country."
What the King does could be interesting
A few hours after news of the coup broke, BBC News reported that the leader of the coup would be meeting with the King later in the day, although it was unclear at that time what King Bhumibol's position on the coup was.
If seems that the generals remain loyal to the King, in which case he could well play a similar role in defeating it as Juan Carlos did in Spain in 1981...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:45:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
CNN via Wikipedia: Thai army chief leads coup while prime minister away (September 19, 2006)
The chiefs of Thailand's army, navy and air force met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej to declare they were taking over the country, according to a televised statement early Wednesday.

The coup is being led by Thai army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who announced that the military and opposition Party of Democratic Reform were taking over while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York for a U.N. meeting.


Sonthi, who is known to be close to Thailand's revered constitutional monarch, will serve as acting prime minister, army spokesman Col. Akarat Chitroj said, according to The AP. Sonthi is a Muslim in this Buddhist-dominated nation, AP reported.


Only one local station was broadcasting and it was showing pictures of the country's king, according to an e-mail CNN received from Nio Paul, who identified himself as an American living in Thailand.


Troops on the streets of the Thai capital had yellow ribbons on their weapons, a sign of loyalty to the nation's king, to whom the coup plotters proclaimed their loyalty.


Elections in Thailand are scheduled for November after the country's constitutional court ruled that a vote in April was unconstitutional.

Thaksin had called for the April elections, three years early, after opponents accused the billionaire leader of abusing the country's system of checks and balances and bending government policy to benefit his family's business.

Some Thais gathered outside Government House in Bangkok to get pictures of themselves with the tanks and troops, AP reported.

Ok, now at least we have a motive for the coup.

It looks like the only way the coup will fail is if the King makes a stand against it, but CNN reports that he has already met with the coup leaders and the  coup wasn't called off, so I think that's it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bear in mind that this coup has massive popularity in Bangkok, the south, the east and a lot of central Thailand.
by observer393 on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 10:11:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I read about this stuff, the more it seems the coup can't fail.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 10:22:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The coup is a done deal.
Read into it what you will but the PM left on a private airbus with 60 crates of "x" a week or so ago. His acolytes fled yesterday. His military supporters changed sides.
General Sonthi is proabably the second most popular man in Thailand today. Not bad for a Muslim.
An elected government may be more repressive than an unelected government. It is not about the way a government comes to power, but how they perform.
by observer393 on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 11:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Newsnight tonight, the main charges levelled at Thaksin:

  1. Creeping authoritarian tendencies, including Berlsconi style media ownership (no independent TV left in Thailand), nepotism in the armed forces and civil service.

  2. Issues about the situation in the South.

  3. Concerns about his personal corruption.

  4. Loss of support for Thaksin in the Bangkok middle class, feeling that Thaksin suppressed opposition.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:55:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You, or newsnight, missed out the borderline lese majeste of the administration, which here in Thailand is a very big issue.  
by observer393 on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 10:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well living in Thailand, I would say the motivation for the coup was that Thaksin had divided the country far too much, and had refused to step down to rectify this division. A recent alleged bomb plot, that few believed, against him used to alter the military promotion list was probably the final straw.
by observer393 on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 10:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The motivation for the coup, as some have mentioned both above and below seems to be the growing displeasure amongst many of Prime Minister Thaksins and had its peak in 2005 when;
In December 2005, however, mass protests erupted after Thaksin exempted his family from taxes on the sale of their corporate stake. Street rallies lasted seven weeks before the prime minister responded by calling a snap election, which he won with deep support among the rural poor. However, the opposition refused to accept the results, and with Thailand's elites becoming increasingly disenchanted and a low-level Muslim insurgency raging in the south, Thaksin's ties with the army worsened. Last month, he accused military groups of conspiring to assassinate him.
For the military I think what broke the camels back were the two reasons that I have highlighted in the blockquote above, but for the people I think it is a mix of the problems in the south, the corruption issues and the fact that many do not accept the election outcome in 2005 and in order to legitimize the coup the military had to get the Kings approval and to address the peoples grievances about economical and political corruption hence the name of the new governing institution, "The Council for Administrative Reform".  

That said I still have to add that it might not come as a total surprise that the military stages a coup d'etat in a country that have a quite recent history of the military meddling into political affairs, but that doesn't make it more acceptable.  A democratic election have to be respected at least when it is a year after it was held.  If there are political grievances and if a country truly wants to call itself a democracy, those grievances have to be solved by civil institutions.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 12:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bear in mind that civil institutions in Thailand were widely seen as having been packed with proxies and thereby corrupted by the Thaksin regime. This coupled with almost total media control, mass vote manipulation, and increasingly violent attacks on his opponents, and attempts to stop them even assembling did not really allow for any solution by normal means.
A poll today announced in the Bangkok Post shows 82% of Bangkokians and very surprisingly 86% of rural people, favor the coup. I doubt that few here in Thailand actually care too much that some westerners will say it is an attack on democracy. The statements by Australia and New Zealand have gone down like a lead balloon with the Thai people I have talked talked to who say those idiots dont know what has been happening in the country. At the end of the day a repressive government is still a repressive government whether it is elected or not and the people under it will be relieved when it is gone. The method of removal is not important to those people.  
by observer393 on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 12:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that might be, still the procedure of removal, especially of a democratically elected government, is a very important part of a democratic system no matter what people think and say.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 06:33:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're saying revolution is only (if at all) legitimate against undemocratic regimes and that a democratic system cannot degenerate into an undemocratic regime?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 06:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I would say yes to your first question and no to your second.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 06:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the claim coming from Thailand seems to be the PM had subverted the democratic system and a revolutionary change was needed. A rewrite of the constitution is in the works.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 06:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and I say I have my doubts over whether the democratic system was in such a bad shape that it could legitimize a military coup.  That said I have to add that I am not in any need of defending Thaksin I am only defending the democratic principles that have been violated.  

You have to be pretty sure of your own case and ought to have solid proof of gross misconduct, anti-democratic behaviour and the ineptness of civil institutions to cope with this "crisis" in order to be able to sell a military coup as a necessity in order to save democracy.  Well that is my opinion anyway.    

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 07:01:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The interesting part in this case is that the coup leaders have explicitly said Thaksin has done no wrong and is welcome to return to Thailand.

Rediff: Bangkok Despatch: Why the Army took over (September 20, 2006)

The English-language newspaper The Nation's website reported that Gen Sonthi was asked by a British diplomat what action would be taken against the ousted government including Thaksin Shinawatra. Sonthi said Thaksin and members of his Cabinet can return to the country. He added that they have done no wrong.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 07:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks for that snippet of information.  I have had an uneasy feeling about this coup from the start, a feeling that the military was just itching to get into the drivers seat once more.  One part of democracy is to accept the peoples choice when a party and a leader is elected and not to oust that person just because some people are displeased with his policies their reasons have to be more solid than that.

Even so, let's hope that the democratic system is restored soon and that the new constitution will live longer than its predecessor.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 07:30:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Thaksin government used its position to fill all of the check and balance institutions with its proxies, or to literally buy off those who were not direct proxies. These institutions included famously the extremely powerful election commision whose job became basically to insure Thai Rak Thai (TRT) electoral victories by holding elections in a manner that would favor the ruling party and by insuring no complaint against the ruling party would be upheld. One of their most interesting rulings was that if state money were used to buy votes it was not deemed to be vote buying. Vote buying has been rife in Thailand. Another of the check and balance institutions undermined was the supposedly non-partisan Senate. A block vote was basically bought. The auditor-general spent most of her term fighting to keep her position after the senate claimed she had been improperly selected. She was not able to do her job. She was not a Thaksin loyalist. The National Counter Corruption Commision that was supposed to check on corruption was never even selected as the government and Senate tied the selection process into a legal knot. While this was happening every complaint of corruption was reffered to this body. There is now a backlog of over 10,000 cases.
The government strictly controlled the state media rarely allowing a critical voice onto it, and newspapers faced having all of their advertising pulled if they allowed criticism.
The alienation of the Muslims in the South from any complaint proicedure has surely fired the flames of insurgency too. The disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai who was chairman of the Muslim lawyers association remains a very dark mark over the Thaksin government. Thousands of deaths in the so-called war on drugs were not even investigated.
The TRT politcally interferred with the national police force, so that they enforced the politcal agenda of the ruling party and ignored any public complaints against the ruling party. This was particularly severe when opponents of the regime (and it was a regime at the end)started street demonstrations. The organisers always managed to keep these peaceful on their side. However, the response they met was not always so. Buses bringing demonstrators to Bangkok were routinely delayed and sent home. Some of the early smaller demonstrations were attacked by forest rangers organised by the natural resources minister. Complaints led to no action. Later a national newspaper was surrounded by a drunken mob organised by the PMs office minister. They threatened to rape any woman in the building. A similar mob tried to attack another newspaper office but local residents actually repulsed them. Then the opposition Democrat party who had nothing to do with the rallies held a meeting in the Northern town of Chiang Mai. The police stood aside as another gang of forest rangers attacked the meeting and  an ex-PM was assaulted. Again complaints were ignored. Similar attacks on opponents of the PM continued around the country. When shoppers booed the PM they were assaulted and an old man was kicked repeatedly on the ground and a five-year old child beaten. The police were filmed standing and doing nothing. Complaints were made but the response was any demonstrator against the government would be arrested if they caused people to attack them! Throughout this series of demonstrations General Sonthi refused to get inolved in a state of emergency when pressed by the government. The Thai military was just about the last institution that had not been packed with proxies although there were enough Thaksin supporters commanding units in Bangkok, and the exact mechanics of the coup are interesting in themself., but that is another story.
There is a lot more including an alleged attempt to assisinate the PM with a bomb, which most believed was just a publicity stunt to divert the news cycle from his supporters increasing violent action. Some of this had seeped onto the normally pliant media.
It all ended with a huge street demonstration planned by the People's Alliance for Democracy for Wednesday 20 September against the PM. Of course the coup changed all of this. It is interesting that the PM had a well prepared state of emergency speech that he read some of from the UN on Thai TV. This combined with the discovery of armed forest rangers in Bangkok has led many to speculate that there was a TRT plan to attack the Wednesday demonstration and then declare a state of emergency. Maybe we will find out more on this in the coming weeks.
Anyway, what I have tried to do is try to give some kind of feel to the atmosphere that led up to the coup  that will hopefully explain why the coup has received such support in Thailand.      
by observer393 on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 05:28:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the diary!

As usual wikipedia does an excellent job too

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 05:39:41 PM EST
A pleasure.  Yes, wikipedia seems to have an in-depth and thorough coverage of the issue.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 12:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I noticed a tourist saying the following on the BBC's article about the coup:

"To see this is a once in a lifetime opportunity"

Well, it's wrong. I was in Bangkok during the 1985 coup and could very well have been there during this one. Apparently there was another one between these two, so I could have gone for a hat trick ...

Damn tourists, getting all excited about something that has all the markings of being rather routine.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Sep 19th, 2006 at 07:04:13 PM EST
in Thailand, I feel some obligation to offer something.


This is a forum of mostly expats living (or having lived) in Thailand.

Which is what I am, but I do not post in the forum. Some long threads on this subject easily found there.

Here are some things I snipped from the forum some 8-9 hours ago:

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) --

Few people expected Thailand's political crisis to lead to a coup. But when the military made its move to take over the government Tuesday, it came as no surprise that Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin was in charge.

Despite surge of anti-government protests in recent months, Sondhi had given indications that a government seizure wasn't in the cards.

"Military coups are a thing of the past," he said recently, echoing comments from other top military officers. "Political troubles should be resolved by politicians."

Sondhi, the first Muslim army commander in Buddhist-dominated Thailand, was appointed to the army's top post last year with a mission to deal with an Islamic insurgency in the country's south.

He was seen as having unique qualifications for the job. His religion gave him extra credibility among Muslims, and his service as a former head of the special warfare command made him well suited to the task. In addition, his service in the Vietnam War won him the respect of veterans.
"I will make the Royal Thai Army into the army of the people, and will make soldiers the beloved soldiers of the people," Sondhi said as he assume the top post last year.

Coups are nothing new to Thailand, but many hoped that after 14 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, the days of revolving door military regimes might finally be over.

In recent months, however, mass protests and an impasse over flawed elections have thrown the country into its worst crisis since the last army takeover in 1991.

Even as recently as last week, amid growing tensions in the wake of an alleged bomb plot against now-ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi was quashing coup rumors.
"Has the situation gone to that point? No. There is still a way to go by democratic means," the 59-year-old officer said then. "We should stop talking about it. It is impossible."

Sondhi is thought to be close to Thailand's revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has expressed unhappiness with Thaksin's administration.

When the move came Tuesday against the prime minister, he was in the forefront.
Sondhi took power without a shot being fired and coup officials said he will serve as acting prime minister.


Guardian (UK) profile of Thaksin an interesting read:

The ex-policeman who made grand promises but didn't deliver

John Aglionby
Wednesday September 20, 2006

For Thaksin Shinawatra to be forced out in a coup d'etat would be a strange twist in the career of a man who has preferred to write his own rulebooks rather than abide by prevailing conventions.
From his transformation from a police colonel into the country's most popular leader, via a farcical attempt to buy Liverpool football club in 2004 and an alleged plot on his life last month, Mr Thaksin has always led a larger-than-life existence where wheeling and dealing behind the scenes has been as important as what is presented to the public.

His chameleon nature emerged when he resigned from the police in 1987. He claimed to be burnt-out but the reality was he had used his police connections to establish a software marketing company which, true to form, he named after himself, the Shinawatra Company.
Three years later he helped fuel rumours that he was bankrupt but then almost magically obtained a 20-year concession from the Thai telephone authorities for his mobile network and his future was assured.

In 1994, having conquered the business world, the tycoon, who had obtained a PhD in criminal justice from a little-known university in Texas while in the police, turned to politics.

In 1998 he created his own party, Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais), saying the existing parties were tainted by decades of failure to deliver sustainable development.

Populist promises to deliver cheap healthcare, village rejuvenation projects and a debt moratorium for farmers turned Mr Thaksin into an overnight hero. In the 2001 general election Thai Rak Thai swept into office with the first absolute majority in Thai political history.

That might have been enough for most politicians. But in May 2004 it emerged he was in "serious" talks to buy a controlling stake of Liverpool football club. Mr Thaksin said his motivation was to associate Thailand with world-class brands rather than the sex industry and drug trade.

The fact that the Liverpool deal never happened was typical of the prime minister's past two years: lots of grand promises followed by failure to deliver.

His popularity with the rural masses is strong but Thailand's better-educated urbanites have mobilised against him. What proved the last straw was the sale by Mr Thaksin's relatives in January of their stake in the family conglomerate to Singapore without paying any tax.

Opposition Senator Mechai Viravaidya welcomed Mr Thaksin's departure, despite doubts about the methods used.

"I'm delighted he's gone," he said. "It would have been great if he had resigned voluntarily, but apparently he was too stubborn. But at least it's better than an assassination."

Coup as it unfolds

The Nation monitors the events that led to the coup as well as events after it as following:

Sept 19

8.00 am Thaksin Shinawatra calls an urgent teleconference with all armed forces' commanders at Government House, but none attends.

Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkarin, the army chief, later says the meeting is hastily called. Rumor then spread around the capital and the stock market that a coup de tat is under way.

12.00 am After finishing the webcamera teleconference with Thaksin, who is New York, several Cabinet members check with reporters if there would really be a coup.

6.30 pm The Army's special forces from Lopburi move into Bangkok. Gen Prem Tinnasulalonda, president of Privy Council, has an audience with HM the King, reportedly on a meritmaking ceremony for ML Bau Kittiyakala.

6.55 pm Thai News Agency reports that Thaksin will return to Bangkok on Thursday, instead of Friday.

8.00 pm 191 police receive M16 rifles to prepare for an antiriot assignment.

9.00 pm The Army'[s special forces from Lopburi arrive at the Army's Bangkok headquarters.

Web surfers post messages on Pantip.com asking if there is a coup de tat.

9.10 pm The armyowned TV Channel 5's mobile TV broadcast unit arrives at the Army's Bangkok headquarters.

9.30 pm TV channel 5 cancels regular programming and puts on air royallyauthored songs.

Reporters at Government House say situation is normal, but rumour was rife that deputy premier Pol Gen Chidchai Vanasatit and defence minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkun have been under custody.

Panthongthae, Thaksin's son, reportedly has left Thailand for the UK.

9.40 pm Police commandos arrive Baan Chansongra, Thaksin's residence.

10.00 pm Army tanks take position at Bangkok Makkawan Rangsan Bridge and Rajdamnern Avenue.

10.10 pm CNN reports Bangkok situation

10.20pm Thaksin declares a state of emergency via the phone from New York. He also issues two orders, transferring en Sondhi from the post of army chief to the PM's Office, and naming Gen Rungroj Mahasaranond as the officer in charge of the crisis.

11pm "The Administrative Reform Council" (ARC) issues a first statement on TV network, saying the armed forces and national police have peacefully seized control of Bangkok and surrounding areas. Soldier seize the Shinawatra Building, iTV television stationand Thaksin's residence.

11.15pm Soldiers put steel barricades at Sri Ayudha and Rajdamnoen Roads

11.50pm ARC issues the second statement explaining the reasons for the coup d'etat, citing national disunity and rampant corruption. ARC says it plans to return power quickly to the people

12.39am ARC issues third statement, nullifying the constitution, the caretaker Cabinet and the Constitutional Court.

8:00 am ARC spokesman announces Gen Sonthi will make announcement on TVs at 9 am. The spokesman also announces that TV stations can resume their normal programmes but most continue to relay signals from Channel 5 except iTV, which briefly airs its morning news programme.

8:50 am: Permanent officials and rectors of universities start arriving at the Army headquarters to report themselves to the ARC. Khunying Jaruvan Mainthaka, the auditor-general, flashes a thumb-up to reporters.

9:16 am Sonthi holds a press conference. The first part of his statement is similar to the first statement of the ARC. He says the ARC has to seize power to solve the country's problems caused by the Thaksin admnistration.

Sonthi appears on TV along with the police chief and commanders of other armed forces in the four-minute announcement.

After Sonthi finishes reading the statement, a spokeswoman announces that the TV pool is disbanded and TV stations resume normal programmes.

Based on news and other reports the coup is consistent with the military's position in the news over the last 2 months. I think that democracy in Thailand became sick with the Thaksin infection, and now drastic measures are needed to save the host. As the constitution been suspended for the moment, I can see possible repeal of many of the Thaksin laws that allowed corruption to flourish hence reset to 2000. Until the King speaks I feel we should take what the military says at face value and go about business as normal as possible. It seems thus far to be in line with being a forced necessity to save the country and not a power grab.

They fear a rigged election with Toxin paying for votes as he did last time..  if (note the if brit) this has royal backing there will be a fast election and it will be a lot fairer as there will no longer be one party buying votes either directly or indirectly.

I fear that this is not over yet, however I think you will see the extent of this goverments corruption on public display shortly.

Remember Sondi's words recently, the Army belongs to the king not to the goverment and I personally doubt this happened without anyone (u know who) being aware.

The corrupt ones are running, those who have nothing to fear will stay. I agree this is a big step but you have to stop comparing democracy here to that of the west, elections are bought plain and simple and that stiffles democracy, rural people vote with their wallets not with their mind for the most.

Thailand is, and has been a "banana republic" all along, it's Thaksin himself who declared it the first world, first rate democracy. Generals are just being honest and realistic - it's better to behave according to your nature and level of development that pretend to be something you are not.

Overall, good move, but sad it was the only choice left.

I doubt if you will hear any statements from the palace in the next 48 hours.

BBC news is back on cable, reporting on the coup. BBC News online quote: "The soldiers posted around the city waved and smiled at people passing by, even posing with local people for photographs next to their tanks."

On bbc news the guy from human rights watch said that he would have been much happier if Taxin had been ousted by the PAD, by democratic means. Of course. Would be a lot better. But what if it had never happened?

The sentiment that Thailand should behave like a western country assumes that Thailand is like a western country and that's simply not true.

  • Opposition parties
  • Checks and balances
  • Strong constitution
  • Separaction of judiciary and executive

None of that exists in LOS [land of smiles - gm]. Impeachment proceedings and major corruption lawsuits would be underway if Thailand was western.

Anyway, I am holding off on any further judgement until the King makes an announcement.

It may look bad but it's necessary. Thaksin's autocracy revealed the weaknesses of the Thai constitution. It has to be done over.

I don't think much of world cares about interregnums like this. There is a commitment to democracy that isn't going away. THailand isnt' the Philippines under Marcos of Burma under SLORC.

This coup is a good thing for Thailand. The problem with Thai democracy is that the civil society is too weak. That is one reason why Thaksin could get away with so much without any checks and balances. The press couldn't bring enough pressure upon him -- no one could. That's the result of a single party being able to form a govt. That had never happened in the history of Thai politics. It had always been coalitions before that. Not only a single party, but a party led by the richest man in the country. That was a recipe for abuse of power and that is exactly what happened.

I think this coup was a case of one step back in order to move two steps forward down the line. They had to get rid of him because too many traditional elites were being kept out of their rightful places at the trough. You can't expect that kind of situation to continue indefinitely. Their was a political stalemate all year with no way out as long as Thaksin remained on the scene. He had to go.

The people in power know they have to start all over again and try to get it right. So writing a new constitution will be the first step.

09-20 11:23:48,
Bank of Thailand Governor MR Pridayadhorn Devakula cut short his trip to attend the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting in Singapore and he will arrive Bangkok at noontime.

He said he agreed to accept to become Prime Minister. Nonetheless, it was expected that there would be a press conference at the Arm Force auditorium today.

The Nation

My opinion?
For most people, this is nothing to get excited about.

by Gary McGowan on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 06:04:35 AM EST
Thanks Gary...and please keep us updated (and good luck, too!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 07:40:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My privilege and pleasure.

Actually I tacked on that "nothing to get excited about."

I'll take the "Good luck" to mean in finding a job before my family becomes foodless and homeless. Thank you.

by Gary McGowan on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 11:58:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unlike most of the government ministers he did not flee the country when the military leaders failed to turn up for a video conference with PM Thaksin at 8 AM on Tuesday morning.
by observer393 on Wed Sep 20th, 2006 at 10:19:41 AM EST
The King backs coup leaders:


"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 08:00:28 AM EST
What was the King's constitutional role? Was it purely ceremonial?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 08:05:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to this  Wiki article the former constitution gave the Thai King extensive formal political powers besides from his popularity amongst the Thai people giving him moral powers, but seems to have refrained from using them most of the time.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 10:35:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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