Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thai Martial Law: Coup or no Coup? (video)

Wisdom Quarterly; Panarat Thepgumpanat, Amy Sawitta Lefevre (Reuters, 5-21-14); CNN
(CNN) Kristie Lu Stout reports on pre-dawn announcement of martial law and its implications

UPDATE 3: Talks to end Thai crisis inconclusive, new round called
  • Army chief met political parties, rival protest groups
  • Meeting inconclusive, said participants
  • Army declared martial law on Tuesday, denies staging a coup
  • Acting PM says he is still in charge, proposes Aug. 3 election
Theravada devotion, Thailand (WQ)
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's rival political factions would not agree to stop street protests on Wednesday during crisis talks aimed at ending the confrontation a day after the army declared martial law, a pro-government activist said.

Although the military denied Tuesday's surprise intervention amounted to a coup, army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha appeared to be setting the agenda by forcing groups and organizations with a central role in the crisis to talk.

Streets in the south: Phuket, 2012 (SR)
Issues raised during the meeting included reforming the political system -- a demand made by anti-government protesters -- and ending the demonstrations that have sparked violence, disrupted business, and scared off tourists.

"When asked whether each group can stop protesting, there was no commitment from either side," Thida Thawornseth, a leader of the pro-government "red shirt" political group, told Reuters. "There was no clear conclusion."

Tensions high in Bangkok (March 2010)
Puchong Nutrawong, secretary-general of the Election Commission, who was also at the talks, said all sides would meet again on Thursday.

"The army chief asked us to go back home and think about the things we discussed in order to find a solution for the country," Puchong told Reuters.

Protests continue in Thailand (2010)
Thailand has been riven for nearly 10 years by the rivalry between populist former Prime Minister [corrupt billionaire tycoon] Thaksin Shinawatra and the royalist establishment.

Echo of troubles in Venezuela (AFP)
Thaksin, a former tele-com billionaire who won the loyalty of the rural and urban poor, has lived in self-exile since 2008 but still exerts a huge influence, most recently through a government run by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra [the latest PM to be ousted, two weeks back].

China troubles Taiwan, April 2014 (UR)
Yingluck was forced to step down as premier by a court two weeks ago, but her caretaker government remains in power, despite the declaration of martial law and six months of sometimes violent protests aimed at ousting it.

The turmoil has driven the [largest Theravada Buddhist] country to the brink of recession and even raised fears of civil war.

Thailand anti-government protests (2009)
The anti-government protesters are opposed to an election, which Thaksin's loyalist would be likely to win. They want a "neutral" prime minister installed to oversee electoral reforms aimed at ending Thaksin's influence.
[They also want to replace the PM system with a citizens' committee of leaders, a move seen as too radical by the military and business interests who need a stable platform to operate their capitalist enterprises extracting labor and resources and channeling it into private hands for the benefit of the few at a steep cost to the many.] More 

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