Deputy PM Claims US Ambassador's Eyes Show Confidence in Thai Junta

A sample of images attacking US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney circulated by some conservative Thais on social media. Supporters of the 22 May coup claim Kenney and the US government unlawfully interfered with Thai politics.

BANGKOK – A top official says he saw a glimpse of confidence in Thailand's military regime in the eyes of the American ambassador, who is due to leave her post next month.

"I looked into her eyes, and I believe she understood the situation and had confidence in the government," said Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula yesterday, following a private meeting with the ambassador, Kristie Kenney, at the Government House in Bangkok. 

Kenney is scheduled to leave her post as the US Ambassador to Thailand in November after spending nearly four years in the position. She paid Pridiyathorn a visit yesterday to bid a formal farewell.

Although Thailand retains close ties to the US in the wake of the military coup on 22 May, the US government has criticised the military takeover and called for a swift return to democratic rule in the Kingdom, drawing ire from the junta and its mostly-nationalist supporters who saw the gesture as an unwanted interference.

Ambassador Kenney herself regularly came under rabid attacks from pro-coup Thais on social media. 

Speaking to reporters after meeting, Kenney said it had been a pleasure for her to have lived and worked in Thailand, a country she called "an important ally of the United States." Her successor will be appointed by US President Barack Obama in the near future, Kenney said.

She added that she was discussing economic ties between Thailand and the US with Pridiyathorn, and said she hoped she would be able to work with the Thai government in the future. 

When a reporter asked for her opinion about the military junta, Kenney declined to comment, and suggested that the opinion "is up to the Thais."

After her term as ambassador to Thailand is completed, Kenney will take up a position in the US State Department in Washington DC. Patrick Murphy, charge d'affairs to Thailand, will serve as the head of the US diplomatic mission in Bangkok until Kenney's successor is appointed.

Pridiyathorn, the Deputy Prime Minister, made an effort to leave Kenney with a lasting impression of the Thai junta as an efficient regime.

"The US may even see that we work better than an elected government does," Pridiyathorn said.

Read more: US Becomes Punching Bag For Pro-Coup Thais

 

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