Military coup follows judicial coup in Thailand

Walden-Pensive-200x300By Walden Bello
Philippines Congressman

After declaring martial law on Tuesday, May 20, the Thai military announced a full-pledged coup two days later. The putsch followed nearly eight months of massive street protests against the ruling Pheu Thai government identified with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The power grab by army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha came two weeks after Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck, was ousted as caretaker prime minister by the country’s Constitutional Court for “abuse of power” on May 7.

The Thai military portrayed its seizure of power as an effort by a third force to impose order after two rounds of talks between the country’s two warring camps sponsored by the army head failed to produce a compromise that would provide Thailand with a functioning government.

Deftly managed script

The military’s narrative produced few takers. Indeed, many analysts saw the military’s move as a coup de grace to Thailand’s elected government, following what they saw as the judicial coup of May 7.

It is indeed difficult not to see the putsch as the final step in a script deftly managed by the conservative “royalist” establishment to again thwart the right to govern of a political bloc that has won every election since 2001. Utilizing anti-corruption discourse to inflame the middle class into civil protest, the aim of key forces in the anti-government coalition has been, from the start, to create a situation of instability and anarchy that would provoke the military to step in and provide the muscle to create a new political order.

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