Thursday, September 21, 2006

Muslim insurgency behind Thailand coup.

World: The new general-leader and king will pretty much surrender to the insurgency down south, though Thaksin reponse to the crisis was horrible. Who says violence doesn't pay?

A telecom tycoon’s wrong number about a Muslim insurgency was one of the key reasons for the coup in Thailand. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s erratic response to an incipient Muslim insurgency was one of the most important divides between him and the Thai army chief. The coup leader, General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, was chosen to head the Thai army because his Muslim background was seen as an advantage in tackling a two-year-old Malay Muslim insurgency in south Thailand that has claimed 1,200 lives. The general had publicly called for talks with the insurgents, a position Thaksin rejected. Sondhi is close to the Thai monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The king, known to support a softer stance, has been concerned about Thaksin’s confrontational manner in handling Thai problems, say Indian and Australian diplomatic sources. A television announcement on Wednesday said the king endorsed Sondhi’s running the country. A poll by Suan Dusit University said 84 per cent Thais supported the coup.
An insurgency leader is happy.
Thaksin, who used an iron-fisted policy in trying to suppress the insurgency, was widely detested in southern Thailand and many moderate Muslims said that the bloody conflict could never be solved as long as he remained in power. "It is the right thing that the military has taken power to replace the Thaksin Shinawatra government," said Lukman B Lima, an exiled leader in one of several groups fighting the central government for a separate Muslim state. "We hope that the political (situation) can be resolved under Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin as the new leader," Lukman said. In an e-mailed response to questions from the agency, Lukman said Sondhi was the "only one who knows the real problems" of the Muslim-dominated provinces of southern Thailand. Lukman, exiled in Sweden, is vice president of the Pattani United Liberation Organization, or PULO. "We will continue to fight until full independence (is attained) in Pattani," he said, referring to the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. Sondhi, 59, had proposed several weeks ago opening talks with the separatists, but Thaksin's government vehemently opposed such a move. "Thaksin's government has totally failed to quell the violence, so we are pinning our hope on the Council of Administrative Reform," said Srisompob Jitpiromsri, a political scientist from Prince of Songkhla University in the southern province of Pattani.

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