Thailand: Avoiding Civil War


p> June 10, 2008:  While the Islamic terrorist violence continues, at a slower pace, in the south, most Thais are more concerned with the possibility of civil war. The new prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, is an ally of the deposed (by a 2006 army coup) prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The aristocracy, generals and urban elites did not like Thaksin, but underestimated how broad and determined his support was. The coup was basically the capital versus the rest of the country, and the capital lost. Thais are very adroit in these matters, which is why the junta was simply able to hold an election, see which way the political winds were blowing, and step aside. But the royalist coalition rewrote the constitution in 2007, to favor their interests, and are opposed to another constitutional rewrite that would erase those changes. All this is being backed up by large demonstrations in the capital, along with threats of another military coup (which the generals deny is in the works.) It's basically a battle between a minority (the traditional elites of the aristocracy, the military and the urban educated professionals) and the majority (newly rich businessmen who know how to get the votes of the majority of less affluent Thais living outside the capital.) Most Thais believe that democracy should be given a chance to work things out, but a vocal minority in the capital does not agree, and they have powerful allies.



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