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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BANGKOK4525 2006-07-26 10:54:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

ELECTION COMMISSIONER TO ENTER MONKHOOD; ONWARD TO

Tags:   PGOV PHUM TH 
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VZCZCXRO1535
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #4525/01 2071054
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261054Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0489
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004525 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM TH
SUBJECT: ELECTION COMMISSIONER TO ENTER MONKHOOD; ONWARD TO
ELECTIONS

REF: BANGKOK 4490

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Alex A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (d
)



1. (C) SUMMARY: The Criminal Court's verdict against the
Election Commission is strongly worded and openly states that
the three were denied bail in order to prevent them from
running the October election. The Commissioners have signed
letters of resignation; one promises to enter the monkhood
once he makes bail. The opposition is gleeful about the
verdict; TRT is philosophical. Although the hard-core
opposition is still calling for PM Thaksin's immediate
resignation, most of the players appear ready to take the
fight off the streets and back to the polling booths. Things
seem to be on track for a reasonably acceptable election on
October 15. END SUMMARY.

ROCKET-PROPELLED KARMA


--------------------------





2. (C) Election Commission Chairman Wassana Permlap and his
fellow commissioners Prinya Nakchudtree and Virachai
Naewboonnien signed their resignation letters this morning
(July 26). This follows their conviction yesterday for
violations of the election code in their running of the
aborted April 2 elections (reftel). The Criminal Court has
used remarkably strong and clear language in their verdict,
which has been gotten extensive press coverage, including on
broadcast media. The Court specifically said that EC made
decisions that favored Thai Rak Thai (TRT), particularly in
their decision to allow new candidates to register for the
second round of voting on April 23. The three commissioners
had held on to their jobs despite tremendous pressure to
resign after the elections were annulled in May by the
Constitutional Court. Commissioner Prinya was protesting his
readiness to organize the October poll even as his bail
request was turned down. Commissioner Virachai, who was
moved to the hospital today for kidney dialysis, told the
press he planned to become a monk once he makes bail.



3. (C) It was clear yesterday that the court had decided not
to allow bail for the three specifically to trigger
constitutional provisions that render someone ineligible to
be an election commissioner if they have been convicted and
imprisoned ("detained by a warrant of the Court.") The court
actually spelled out its intention in the verdict, "It is
evident in the case that if the three defendants are
temporarily released on bail, they will continue to work in
their capacity to prepare the October 15 election, which may
cause severe damage and be detrimental to the election,
leading to a crisis that can affect the peace and order of
the country. The Court therefore denies bail for the
temporary release of the three defendants."



4. (C) The opposition can barely contain its glee over the
verdict and the sentencing of the three. People's Alliance
for Democracy (PAD) members in the south set off 10,000
firecrackers to celebrate. Even ministers are
going along without a whimper. Finance Minister Thanong told
the press that the court's verdict would boost investor
confidence and said that the ruling was in line with
democratic ways. The best analysis came from
massage-parlor-magnate-turned-opposition-poli tician Chuwit
Kamolvisit, who lost his seat in parliament in 2005 when
these commissioners disqualified him on technical grounds.
He told the press, "The law of Karma is now propelled by a
rocket. We didn't have to wait until the next life to see
justice being served."

LOOKING FORWARD


--------------------------





5. (C) Officials are emphasizing that new commissioners will
be chosen quickly. In the interim, there are a number of
things which will apparently have to go on hold. There
remain a handful of senators elected in April who still have
not had their mandate confirmed. They will presumably remain
in limbo until the new commission considers their cases.
(Since several, at least, are popular Bangkok personalities
who would be no friends of TRT, they are probably happy to
wait for the new EC.) The results of the local election in
Bangkok, run on July 23 -- which resulted in a very strong
showing by the Democrat party -- may have to await validation
until the new commission is in place. Basic arrangements for
running the October 15 polls can probably be handled by the

BANGKOK 00004525 002 OF 002


local election commissions and by the professional staff. So
far, it appears that the elections can be held on October 15.

THEY KNOW AS MUCH AS WE DO


--------------------------





6. (U) The intense focus on the fate of the much maligned
Election Commissioners has taken the spotlight off the Prime
Minister for a few days. The Bangkok Post scooped the
competition over the weekend with the inside story from the
International Symposium on Vedic Sciences. Both Thailand's
top astrologer and a distinguished Indian seer predicted that
Thaksin would lose the premiership, but be back in politics
in five years. The forum was presided over by former prime
minister (and political hopeful) General Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh. He had his fortune read by the Indian psychic
as well, but refused to reveal what the stars said about his
future.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) The stars are now in alignment for a reasonably
acceptable election on October 15. The PAD continues to
complain that Thaksin should step down before the vote, but
the opposition parties are not expecting this to happen. A
major controversy over the selection of new election
commissioners, or a major blunder by Thaksin, could provoke
more protests, but most of the players appear ready to take
the contest off the streets and into the polling booths.



8. (C) The court's harsh treatment of the election
commissioners sends a very clear message to everyone involved
in the election process ahead. The gloves are off, and the
courts are ready to impose real penalties for election
shenanigans. The fact that the verdict singles out TRT as
the beneficiary of the EC's violations is another blow to the
Prime Minister, and a warning shot across TRT's bow.
ARVIZU