Thai military coup wasn't necessary
Thai military commanders deposed the prime minister in a nonviolent coup.
THE military coup toppling the popular prime minister of Thailand
is a reminder of the difficulty in planting democratic roots in Southeast Asia. The overthrow appears to have been tied to friction between Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but a resolution should have been possible without military intervention.
Thaksin was a populist who had widespread rural support but was accused of corruption and was unpopular among the urban elite in Bangkok. That appears to be why the coup was accepted casually, described as a hiccup by a political writer at the daily newspaper The Nation.
"It's turning out to be a nonevent," said former Honolulu resident Greg Chiu, whose Hong Kong consulting company does business in Thailand. Thais have been accustomed to military coups for decades.
The Thai generals called it a pro-democracy coup, and Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin promised to "return power to the Thai people as soon as possible." King Bhumibol, a constitutional monarch, approved. He appointed Sonthi to lead the governing council "in order to create peace in the country."
That will occur without the participation of Thaksin, who was at the United Nations in New York at the time of the coup and is unlikely in the near future to return to Thailand, where he could face lawsuits and charges of corruption that could lead to a prison sentence. Without Thaksin's leadership, his Thai Rak Thai -- Thais Love Thais -- party could fall apart.
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