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Forum LockedThai Coup 1991-1992

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    Posted: 22-Oct-2006 at 20:46

After decades of tight military dictatorship in 1988 Thailand had it's first elected government for over 50 years.

The elections were won by the Chart Thai Party and it's leader the flamboyant retired General Chatichai Choonhavan became prime minister and General Chavalit Yongchaiyuth as his minister of Defence

Chatichai instituted a radical policy of change diametrically opposed to the conservative rule of the military over the last 50 years. He softened relations with both Vietnam and Cambodia, ceased supporting the Khmer Rouge and undermined traditional institutions replacing them with the free market and championing business as Thailand's future.

While Thailand had unprecedented growth under his government (10%) a culture of corruption began to grow in the business world that began to come under more criticism from both the press and the army.

Noting the attention the army was paying to his government Chatichai decided to act first and organised a purge of the army's old guard, in charge his Minister for Defence Chavalit and now also deputy prime minister.

General Chavilit had retired as army chief earlier that year after mismanaging the Lao border war where Thailand suffered a humiliating defeat. He also was just about the most hated person in the country by the army. Previously when a serving officer it was believed he had republican leanings and left wing sympathies which was about the worst thing in the eyes of the army. Putting Chavalit in charge of the army purge was considered the final straw.

In 1991 criticising the corruption of the government, the conservative faction of the army under new chief General Suchinda Krayayoon took control of the government, siezed all news media and reported their loyalty to the king and that the king supported the coup. Suchinda also promised to appoint an interim civilian prime minister and organise democratic election in a year or so.

Anand Panyarachun was appointed interim pm, a conservative reformist and champion of the Bangkok elite, he had enough credibility with all factions to stabilise the country.

In March democratic elections were held and the party of Suchinda specially formed for the elections won, upon victory Suchinda sacked the party leader and declared himself pm.

When the governor of Bangkok began to organise popular support and demonstration against Suchinda loosed the army on them. Hundreds were gunned down in the streets and thousands rounded up and shot and buried in mass graves. Navy ships then began to sail down the Chao Prya river through central Bangkok with banners hanging from their ships stating "The navy does not kill people". Finally in May 1992 as chaos descended and the amry broke up into factions, the king called halt to the proceedings and sacked Suchinda, recalling Anand who would serve as pm until later elections were called.

The cast.

Chatichai, would form a new political party but never regain power and die in a few years.

Chawalit, a true political chameleon after formed the New Aspiration party and served as deputy pm to Banharm Silpa-archa, pm himself in 1995 and deputy PM to Taksin till this year's coup.

Suchinda, was never brought to account for the coup or the deaths and after his retirement put in charge of the king's bodyguard. Shedding some light on how true his claims were that the king supported his coup.

 


Edited by Paul - 22-Oct-2006 at 20:51
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