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News Analysis: Resolving Thai political crisis rests with military, says analyst

English.news.cn   2013-12-03 16:19:49            

By Surasak Tumcharoen

BANGKOK, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The onus of resolving Thailand's political crisis now falls on the Thai military after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the anti-government protest leader and former lawmaker of the main opposition Democrat Party Suthep Thaugsuban failed to agree on a compromise.

Although Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and other military leaders have remained noncommittal on how to defuse the political crisis triggered by Yingluck government's failed attempt last month to push through a controversial amnesty bill allegedly aimed at paving the way for exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home, sooner or later they might be tempted to take action or act as a mediator between the opposing sides, according to noted academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun of Kyoto University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

"The military might wait for a very opportune time to make a move to intervene in the affairs of the government which might possibly be followed by a coup if they assume that the situation has turned to violence or the government could no longer control it," he said.

He added that a military coup could not be ruled out if the military top brass believe that the civilian government fails to put an end to the violence brought about by massive anti- government protests in the streets of Bangkok.

After all, the academic said, military coup is not new in Thailand with some 18 coups taking place over the past 80 years and the latest one in 2006 that ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's elder brother.

Navy chief Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, air force chief ACM PrajinJuntong and Gen. Prayuth were said to have joined an informal meeting between Yingluck and Suthep on Sunday when the lady premier called for an end to the weeklong protests that have caused loss of lives and economic damages.

Reports said that four people were killed and dozens injured during skirmishes between pro and anti-government protesters.

During the meeting, Suthep asked Yingluck to hand over the government to the "people's council" that will appoint a new prime minister.

But Yingluck rejected Suthep's demand, saying she did not know how to make that happen under the constitution.

Suthep, who has orchestrated the street protests and occupation of government premises in the capital Bangkok, has vowed to completely eradicate so-called "Thaksin rule", alluding that Yingluck is taking orders from her exiled brother.

Suthep, acting on behalf of the people's revolution and in the name of Groups of People for Changing of Country toward Absolute Democracy, has categorically spurned all compromises and maintained that the mass protests would not stop even if Yingluck steps down or dissolves the House of Representatives to call for a snap election.

He insisted that the "Thaksin-directed" government should be replaced by a "truly democratic one."

Despite an arrest warrant issued against him for his alleged role in the protesters' occupation of the government offices, Suthep was able to slip out of his stronghold at an occupied complex of government units in Bangkok's northern suburbs to hold talks with Yingluck and finally leave without being arrested.

Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal, seen as a protege of the exiled Thaksin, suggested that the protests be called off and the leading protesters sit down with top government officials to map out groundwork and guidelines for the making of a truly democratic rule which may be carried out by a new elected government after the lady premier dissolves the lower house to hold a snap election in six months.

"The demands raised by the protesters such as the introduction of a people's parliament and non-elected government are absolutely illegitimate and unconstitutional. The world community will never recognize any outcome of the ongoing putsch. So they'd better come to peaceful dialogue and tell us what they want and what they do not want in future democratic rule," he said.

Yingluck said on Monday that she was ready to resign or dissolve the lower house to bring peace to the country, and urged protestors to make joint efforts to find a peaceful solution to the political crisis.

Nonetheless, the powerful military top brass seemed to have put much pressure on the civilian government, albeit in tacit manner, to resolve the deadlock despite the fact that they are under the lady premier who is concurrently defense minister, commented Thida Thavornset, head of the National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, also knowns as the pro-government Red Shirt movement.

According to her, Suthep would not listen to suggestions from the government and neutral academics since he believed he gained some kind of advantage and thus exerted unrelentingly pressure on the government.

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