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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs            4 July  2011

Military to stay out of Thai politics

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Thailand’s military accepts a landslide election win by allies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by the army in a 2006 coup, the outgoing defense minister said on Monday.

Thaksin's overthrow sparked years of turmoil and a series of street protests by rival political factions. His party staged a stunning comeback in Sunday's election, forcing outgoing premier Abhisit Vejjajiva to concede defeat.

“I have talked to military leaders. We will allow politicians to work it out. The military will not get involved,” General Prawit Wongsuwon told news services. “The people have spoken clearly so the military cannot do anything. We accept it.” The military is a constant wildcard in a nation that has seen almost as many coups as elections.

Political observers had said that a close result in Sunday's vote could have fuelled a fresh round of street protests or military intervention. But a clear win by the opposition will make it harder for the generals to justify seizing power again.

“Let the elected politicians work. We cannot chase them away. They haven't doing anything wrong,'”General Prawit said. A key issue for the military is whether the new government tries to pursue legal or other steps against the generals for a bloody crackdown last year on opposition protests that left more than 90 people dead, mostly civilians.

But Mr. Thaksin has said he is not seeking “revenge” against his foes in the armed forces, who see themselves as the guardian of the monarchy.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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