Royal Thai Army Commander-in-chief emphasised the importance of peace in the country to grow the economy as also the army’s key goal. He said he could not guarantee that this would be the case but that there would be no repeat of what had happened in the past meaning a military seizure of power.

The army chief, General Narongphan Jitkaewtae on Friday cautioned about speculation in the media about the prospect of a coup was, in itself, a danger to the country’s democracy and told reporters that the word ‘coup’ should be removed from their dictionaries. He said the army was ready to play its part and work with any new democratic government that comes to power. Even those that maintained a policy of doing away with conscription which he said the army did not agree with. He said that the military would explain its position but understood that any new government had the right to implement its own policies. General Narongphan said he hoped the ‘inevitable’ change ushered in by a new government would lead to a better Thailand and one without conflict.

Royal Thai Army Commander-in-chief General Narongphan Jitkaewtae says the media should delete the word ‘coup’ from its dictionaries. He warned the media speculation on a coup was in itself a danger to democracy. He said that there was ‘zero’ chance of what happened before occurring again.

The Royal Thai Army Commander-in-chief General Narongphan Jitkaewtae, on Friday, reprimanded reporters for speculating on the possibility of another coup d’état in Thailand by telling them that the word ‘coup’ should be removed from their vocabulary.

He warned that speculation about the possibility of such an occurrence in itself was a threat to the stability of the country and that it should not be pursued by the media.

‘The term should not be used. It is not appropriate. I want reporters to remove it from your dictionary,’ he stated.

Last weekend the Prime Minister’s own United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party raised the spectre of dark days of political turmoil returning

With rising tension ahead of this Sunday’s General Election caused by enquiries into both the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties and legal cases as well as a dark video from the PM’s United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party last weekend warning of a return to dark days of political turmoil and uncertainty about the outcome of the election and the prospect of a peaceful transition to a new government, the army leader faced questions from reporters as to what may happen if public discord does break out after the election.

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General Narongphan told reporters that Thailand has learned from experience that democracy in the kingdom must be preserved but he cautioned this would require maturity from both politicians, the public and all parts of society.

‘We have reached a point where democracy has to go ahead. Everyone should be mindful and avoid what should not be done,’ he said.

Thailand’s last coup was on 22nd May 2014 when current Prime Minister General Prayut Chan ocha seized power to bring an end to six months of chaos and confusion across Bangkok caused by rival street protests while in October 2006,  then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed by a coup while attending the United Nations in New York after political chaos engulfed the kingdom following an outcry over the controversial sale of his firm Shin Corporation (ShinCorp) to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.

Army chief rules out any prospect of what went before or another coup d’état: ‘I can assure you that what occurred in the past, the chance is zero now’

He added that this did not mean that the country will always be peaceful, something he said depended on the people working together.

However, the prospects of another military coup, he contended, no longer existed.

‘I cannot say whether the country will be peaceful. I mean that peace can only be achieved by everyone working together,’ the army chief said. ‘But I can assure you that what occurred in the past, the chance is zero now.’

The army chief went further and suggested that change in Thailand was inevitable and he hoped that change in the country would be for the better.

‘The country needs to be peaceful so the economy can grow. But if we are in conflict and stir up unrest, the country will be in chaos, and people will be in trouble. Everyone must work together in the country’s best interests,’ he declared.

Army chief says conscription is still needed in Thailand and the army will present its case to any new government which must pursue its own policies

Nevertheless, the army commander said he still believed that conscription in Thailand was necessary for the military and the defence of the country.

The opposition bloc has been proposing a shift to a volunteer army or all-professional fighting force.

However, General Narongphan was clear that if parties such as Pheu Thai and Move Forward came to power then they have the right to carry out their policies in government while at the same time, the military has the right to put forward its position.

‘They have the right to carry out their policy if they become the government, but the military also has the right to explain why conscription is necessary,’ he told reporters. ‘Everyone has the right to agree or disagree. We can have different opinions. That’s normal.’

Makeup of new government is still unknown

However, he underlined that this was all speculation as to the future as no one is clear what will happen after Sunday’s poll or the nature of the next government.

‘That’s about the future. No one knows about it until after the election. It is up to political parties to form a coalition, while military personnel are not political office holders,’ he said.

He pointed out that the army has laid down guidelines for the behaviour of its personnel over the weekend and during the election while it is also encouraging all soldiers to play their part in the democratic process by casting their vote.

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Further reading:

Dark predictions as the opposition parties look set to sweep to power in next weekend’s General Election

Thailand stuck in a ‘vicious cycle’ which will lead to further military coups says leading academic

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