8 June 2019
FORSEA, a network of southeast asian democrats and activists, condemns the parliamentary vote for the position of prime minister in Thailand on 5 June 2019, the result of which reaffirms the return to the premiership of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the coup. General Prayuth seized power illegally by staging a coup against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. Since then, Thailand has been under the firm grip of the repressive military regime of General Prayuth.
The coup became a plot of the Thai establishment to manage the imminent royal succession and to prevent interference from the then Yingluck government. After the coup, the junta embarked on a long-term project both to defend the political interests of the monarchy and to entrench itself in politics. In so doing, the military commissioned the rewriting of the Thai constitution to one apparently hostile towards democratisation. Among many provisions, the Senate was reconstructed. Now all members of the Senate are appointed by the junta. This provision proved to be useful in the Thai parliament on 5 June when all the Senators voted in support of General Prayuth return as premier: events evident as conflict of interest and the crudest form of nepotism.
The mission here is to ensure the staying power of the military, a mission endorsed by the monarchy itself. With all Senators on his side, General Prayuth has striven to forge alliances with a number of political parties. Among these parties is the Palang Pracharat, which won the highest popular votes in the 24 March elections – the elections that FORSEA discovered to be replete with fraud and irregularities (see the full report at https://forsea.co/fraud-irregularities-and-dirty-tricks-a-report-on-thailands-2019-elections/). General Prayuth was supported by both the junta-appointed Senators and the parties endorsed by the junta itself.
The verdict of the long-delayed voting session was not unexpected. General Prayuth garnered 500 votes, 251 from the Senate and 249 from the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, his rival, Thanathorn Jungrungruangkit, the leader of the Future Forward party, received only 244 votes and hence will continue his fight in parliament as opposition.
The entire parliamentary votes were therefore politically manipulated. Thailand is still in the military’s shadow. Worse, the electoral process has become a legitimising tool for the junta to permanently root itself in politics, this time setting itself as a legitimate player. For this reason, FORSEA absolutely condemns the political manipulation on the part of the junta, General Prayuth, the Thai Senate and the parties that lent their support for General Prayuth that led him to parliamentary victory. FORSEA also wishes to seek support from the international community to reject the legitimacy of this manipulated process and to General’s Prayuth’s renewed premiership.
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