(8 January) Top officials of the Royal Thai Army have made contradictory comments about possibility of a military coup.
Rumours of a possible coup are intensifying in Bangkok as the "shutdown" of Bangkok planned by anti-government protesters is approaching.
The People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of the State (PCAD) vows to occupy major intersections in the capital city on 13 January in the bid to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, while pro-government Redshirts have also announced they will stage rallies of their own outside Bangkok on the same day.
Many observers see a parallel between the ongoing crisis and the political protests in 2006, when the military ousted the brother of Ms. Yingluck, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a putsch which they claimed was a necessary step to restore order in Thailand.
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, has provided vague answers to reporters when asked about a possible coup over the few weeks. Last month, the general refused to rule out a coup, stating that "anything can happen".
Gen. Prayuth told the press along the similar line yesterday, saying that he cannot confirm whether there will or will not be a coup, as it depends on the situation.
"It′s not only about [coup]. Everything happens because there is a cause," Gen. Prayuth said, "If there is no cause for something to happen, it won?t happen".
He added, "Just like the Thai proverb goes: if a cow has a wound on its back, the crow will peck it. If there is no wound, there won?t be any pecking".
The Permanent Secretary of the Royal Thai Army likewise refused to rule out the possibility of a new coup earlier today. Asked by reporters whether there will be a military coup, Gen. Nipat Thonglek simply laughed and continued on his way to attend a meeting at the Royal Thai Police headquarters.
However, Lt.Gen. Charnchai Phuthong, commander of the Second Army Region, downplayed the ongoing rumours about the coup by insisting that the army will only support a peaceful and legal path to resolve the political conflicts.
"Gen. Prayuth has stressed many times that the army belongs to the people and the nation. The current conflict must be solved by peaceful methods in accordance with the laws," Lt.Gen. Charnchai told reporters after he attended an event at Suranaree Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
"We are following that instruction very strictly," Lt.Gen. Charnchai added.
Meanwhile, the official leadership of the Redshirts has encouraged its supporters to be on alert lest the army launches another coup against an elected government.
In a statement, the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship also laid out plans to be executed in the event of a military coup. The plans call on the Redshirts to help escort the Prime Minister to a "more secure" location in the North or Northeastern region, establish a government in exile, gather at their local police stations, and stage protests in front of the military bases in the provinces.
For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]