a lesson to be accepted by Zimbabwe today… this is incredible what thailand army has done.
Thai army ‘will not challenge’ Yingluck Shinawatra coalition
As sister of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra announces coalition deal, army says it accepts Thailand election result.The sister of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is to form a coalition government after incumbent Democrat PM concedes election defeat Link to this video
Thaksin’s younger sister Yingluck, who fronts the Puea Thai party, announced she had agreed a coalition deal with four minor parties that would give the new government 299 seats.
Puea Thai won an absolute majority with 264 seats in the 500-seat parliament, according to preliminary election commission results that could still shift somewhat. But by moving fast to cement its triumph with outside support has made it harder for opponents to intervene. It paves the way for Yingluck to become the country’s first female prime minister.
Thaksin was toppled by a military coup in 2006 and now lives in Dubai as a fugitive due to an abuse of power conviction that he says was politically motivated. His Thai Rak Thai party and its successor were also disbanded and many of their leaders banned from politics – yet he continued to command massive popular support, as the electoral landslide showed. Puea Thai campaigned on the promise: Thaksin thinks – Puea Thai does.
Yingluck said her first task was the “roadmap to reconciliation” after years of unrest. She also cited the need to tackle high prices, improve international relations and curb corruption.
Meanwhile, outgoing Democrat prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he had decided to step down as party leader, although his right-hand man, Surichoke Sopha, also a Democrat MP, said he believed the party still wanted Abhisit. Surichoke added: “I don’t think this [Puea Thai] government will last long … They will have to compromise with the ruling class and at the same time satisfy the grassroots.”
The country has become polarised between Thaksin supporters, particularly the rural poor and new money – and the old elites that sought to keep him from power with the support of the urban middle classes.
The split became even more entrenched when more than 90 people died as the military cracked down on Thaksin-supporting protesters in the centre of Bangkok last year. While redshirt leaders were jailed over the demonstrations, the government refused to acknowledge that the army had caused any deaths.
General Prawit Wongsuwan, a former army chief close to leaders involved in the ousting of Thaksin, said the military would not intervene or stop Yingluck forming a government. “I can assure you that the military has no desire to stray out of its assigned roles,” he told Reuters. “The army accepts the election results.”
Political analyst Chris Baker cautioned: “They always say they have nothing to do with politics and then they keep interfering.” But he added: “They are obviously feeling quite sensitive after the last five years. They know they made a mess of it.
“They are going to be very reluctant to make a move that puts them in the public eye in politics. They are going to pull the strings of the [anti-Thaksin, conservative and monarchist] yellowshirts and that sort of thing. I think we are more likely to see a formula of street demonstrations and judicial action [than coups].”
Activist and former senator Jon Ungpakorn believed the scale of the Puea Thai win should offer protection against a coup even in the long term.
“I’m not so concerned about the army now and more that the [anti-Thaksin] People’s Alliance for Democracy and ultra-nationalist and monarchist sections of society may cause trouble.”
He predicted attempts to disband the party, perhaps because of the involvement of Thaksin, who is banned from political activity in Thailand.
Democrats have made it clear they will challenge Puea Thai wins in particular constituencies on legal grounds, but the sheer number of seats Puea Thai won means that may not have much impact on the overall outcome.
Ungpakorn added: “At the same time we need a lively criticism of the new government and not allow Puea Thai to behave like the old Thaksin government trying to stifle political opposition and criticism.”
Experts say much will also depend on how carefully Puea Thai plays its hand. They campaigned in part on an amnesty for Thaksin, but know that bringing him back too quickly could galvanise opposition. Speaking from Dubai, Thaksin told reporters: “In Thailand, things are changing. I don’t think a coup d’etat will happen again soon.”