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Thai Military Accepts Opposition Win: Defence Minister

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Thai military 'accepts' opposition polls landslide

by Anusak Konglang

BANGKOK, July 4, 2011 (AFP) - Thailand's powerful military will respect a landslide election win by allies of Thaksin Shinawatra who it toppled five years ago, the defence minister said Monday, easing fears of another coup.

Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra, a 44-year-old political newcomer who is set to become the kingdom's first female prime minister, was scrambling to form a coalition after leading the Puea Thai Party to victory Sunday.

The election and its aftermath is a major test of Thailand's ability to emerge from a long political crisis triggered by Thaksin's 2006 overthrow, which last year saw the country's worst civil violence in decades.

The Puea Thai Party -- masterminded by Thaksin from his self-exile in Dubai -- won a majority of 265 seats out of 500 in the lower house, the election commission said Monday after the vote count was completed.

That is well ahead of the 159 secured by outgoing premier Abhisit Vejjajiva's establishment-backed Democrats, who have conceded defeat after two and a half years in power. Abhisit resigned as party leader Monday.

The crushing win by Thaksin's allies has reshaped a fractured political landscape, but the party must tread carefully if it wants to avoid alienating other key players such as the military.

Puea Thai has already vowed not to seek revenge over a deadly military crackdown on Thaksin's "Red Shirt" supporters in Bangkok last year that claimed the lives of more than 90 people and left major downtown buildings in flames.

Thailand's outgoing defence minister, himself a retired general, told AFP that the army accepted the election outcome, easing fears of fresh military intervention in a country that has seen almost as many coups as elections.

"I have talked to military leaders. We will allow politicians to work it out. The military will not get involved," General Prawit Wongsuwon told AFP.

"The people have spoken clearly so the military cannot do anything. We accept it."

Observers say a key issue for the Bangkok-based elite is whether the opposition will seek to bring Thaksin back from Dubai, where he lives to avoid a jail term imposed in his absence for corruption.

But even more important may be whether the new government pursues legal or other steps against the generals over the bloody crackdown against last year's mass opposition demonstrations in the heart of Bangkok.

"I believe the military leaders are more concerned about their fates... than about Thaksin's return," said Thongchai Winichakul, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The Thaksin issue is a smoke-screen to hide their real concern -- whether they would be investigated and possibly punished."

Although Puea Thai has secured an absolute majority in parliament, it is courting other parties including Chart Thai Pattana -- which won 19 seats -- to bolster its hold on the legislature.

"We brought Chart Thai Pattana in to protect against possible defections but it is still uncomfortable in terms of seats and stability," Puea Thai deputy leader Plodprasob Suraswadi said.

The Election Commission is already studying complaints over irregularities, which could see candidates given disqualified and potentially whittle down Puea Thai's majority.

The populist Thaksin is loathed by the nation's elites who see him as corrupt and a threat to the revered monarchy.

An amnesty for the billionaire telecos tycoon would risk infuriating many in the Bangkok-based establishment in government, military and palace circles and could prompt protests by the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement.

Thaksin, who despite being hugely divisive in Thailand has presided over victories in the nation's last five elections, called on all sides to respect the result and said he did not "want to cause trouble" by returning home.

"I think people want to see reconciliation. They want to move forward," he said. "We will not seek revenge," the former telecom tycoon told Thai television Sunday.


-- (c) Copyright AFP 2011-07-04

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Yingluck first move should be to get rid of the Chief of the Army. Keep only good and honest people in-charge.

In fact she should go one step further and dismantle all the armed forces. The Khmers aren't attacking anymore. :whistling:

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Yingluck first move should be to get rid of the Chief of the Army. Keep only good and honest people in-charge.

Yingluck has already said he can stay on.

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"The populist Thaksin is loathed by the nation's elites who see him as corrupt and a threat to the revered monarchy."

On the one hand, Thaksin is loathed by the very people (his former peers and wealthy enemies) who themselves make one wonder how they became "elite" in the first place. A bit hypocritical there; like the monkey dropping coconuts on the head of the other monkey, who fell down a branch or two, and is trying to climb back up to his branch in the tree.

On the other hand, the second part of the sentence implies that these "elite" have some self-appointed powers of protecting the revered monarchy. A bit presumptuous and cheeky there.

Maybe Saul could possibly become Paul. Maybe that's what the Pharisees are afraid of.

Edited by cup-O-coffee
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I wonder if they will make the mistake of meddling with the army budgets and succession planning again?

Somehow, I think once bitten twice shy, for the time being at least.

Next stop Phraer Viharn I suppose, for tea and biscuits and a big cross border making up session. Sondhi must be pulling the last few hairs on his head out.

Edited by Thai at Heart
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Well the dust seems to be settling pretty fast with this win, I think it may have been a different story had the count been closer.

On the contrary, It is because the vote was not enough to have an overall majority rule, that they have been forced to form a coalition. The mere fact that there is a coalition government will stimulate governmental debate on all issues involving the governance of the country. There will have to be a clear understanding on all affairs between all parties, and this means that the PT party cannot ride roughshod with all their own policies.

Had the vote been such a majority as to not warrant a coalition, then that is when you would see Thaksin's policies forced on the country. because we all know that Yingluck is nothing more than a puppet. She will never be able to cut her hair to reveal the earpiece link that is directly connected to Dubai.

I believe the military are patient awaiting the yellow shirts to hit the streets, as their cue to once again choose the Thai government. Which is almost certain to be the democrats, which personally i find quite amusing considering the 18 coups in the past, this country is anything but a democracy. True democracies would piss themselves laughing at this country's demonstration of democracy.

Has there actually been a democratic party voted into office 'democratically' in Thailand???

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Yingluck first move should be to get rid of the Chief of the Army. Keep only good and honest people in-charge.

Sad to say but I reckon there aren't any of those. Maybe she could find a few that are less corrupt.

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