Prayuth Names Thaksin as Plotter Behind Protests

Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha referred to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra by name Thursday. He habitually makes only indirect reference to the political figure whose influence has been a target of the military regime.

BANGKOK — Junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha today accused the de facto leader of the Redshirt movement of plotting the recent resumption of public protests against his military regime.

After a heated exchange with reporters at Government House who pressed Prayuth to name the person he thinks is behind the gatherings, the junta chief blurted out the name of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains immensely popular in parts of Thailand despite the coup that deposed him 10 years ago.

“Who’s doing this? Who’s supporting them? Who’s plotting all this?” Gen. Prayuth said. “Firstly, it’s foreign lobbyists. Who? Thaksin!” 

The reporter encouraged him, “Yeah, that’s the way to do it!”

Prayuth, who regularly posits himself as a selfless peace-maker, seemed to immediately regret invoking Thaksin by name.

“Yeah, you will use this to strike me. It will be messy again. That’s all you want. The country will be in unrest again.” 

Thaksin, whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra led the civilian government toppled by Prayuth in May 2014, continues to wield undisputed control over his political dynasty despite living in exile for a decade. 

Since seizing power from the pro-Thaksin government in 2014, the junta has worked to dismantle the influence of Thaksin and his network of supporters, known as Redshirts, though publicly junta leaders insist on their political impartiality. 

When egged on by reporters, Prayuth has made previous allusions to Thaksin in public speeches, but never mentioned the Redshirt leader by name in a such a way.

Here’s a partial transcript of Prayuth’s exchange with several unidentified reporters today:

Reporter: Right now there are student groups organizing…

Prayuth: Students are students. But whose side are they on? whose cars brought them there? Who? Huh? Did Voice TV bring them there? Did UDD [Redshirts’ umbrella group, United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship] cars bring them there? Who? How is it related? Analyze it.

Reporter: About people coming out to protest, are you concerned? Because, looking at the trend, they continue to come out, even though their leaders are arrested…

Prayuth: They will go to jail. They will be tried in court. How else?

Reporter: Based on your findings, what network is behind them?

Prayuth: They're investigating. Or you want to do it? … Don’t you know? Answer me. Don't you know where the money is from? Which group? Who? Say the name.

Reporter: Can you explicitly name the person…

Prayuth: I was just telling you earlier. Why didn’t you listen to me? Who's doing this? Who's supporting them? Who's plotting all this? Firstly, it's foreign lobbyists. Who? Thaksin! 

Reporter: Yeah, that’s the way to do it!

Prayuth: Yeah, you will use this to strike me. It will be messy again. That's all you want. The country will be in unrest again.

 

Related stories:

Prayuth Promises Not to Arrest Thaksin at Lee Kuan Yew's Funeral

Prayuth Asks Media To Stop Reporting About Thaksin

Official Calls Thaksin’s Speech ‘Dog Bites Man’ Story 

Don't Vote For 'Previous Politicians,' Prayuth Advises Nation

 

 

Teeranai Charuvastra can be reached at teeranai@khaosodenglish.com and @Teeranai_C.

 

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