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    Thai soldiers patrol prior to Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha's press conference at the Army headquarters in Bangkok on May 26, 2014

    Thai Army Chief: No More Coups, We Swear

    Asia & Pacific
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    No more coups, we promise, Thailand's army chief said in an interview with local media January 2 that is causing some mirth online.

    The country is looking toward an election in late 2017, which General Chalermchai Sitthisat promised the armed forces would respect.

    "I can confirm that there won't be a coup. What would be a reason for having to have the coup?" the general asked. "There won't be a coup. We have already learned from what happened (in the past)," he said.

    Of course, the current military junta was brought to power by a coup in 2014. But never mind that: the junta has promised to hold elections once the country, which recently lost its beloved king, can finalize its new constitution.

    And no matter who the country elects, Thailand can count on the military to stay out of it, Sitthisat said.

    "When elections are held, everyone must accept the rules. The military will not reject the polls," he said, even if the political clique the military ousted in 2014 is reelected, the Bangkok Post reported.

    In 2014, the government of Yingluck Shinawatra was toppled by Thailand's military, only days after the then-army chief (and now prime minister) promised there would be no coup. The army removed Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006.

    Given that the military has successfully seized power 12 times since 1932, and failed on another seven attempts, the general's statements are causing giggles on social media.

    "If the army says something like that it means they will do the opposite for sure," Eakapong Leesinla commented on Facebook, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

    "Why ask such a question," Pim Pongchandr said on the same site. "We all know what he was going to answer, who would say yes?"

    The military says that it stepped in to create stability after years of conflict between Shinawatra supporters and their opponents. Critics say the military is acting in support of the country's elites. Shinawatra and her brother are to some, champions of the poor; to others, corrupt business magnates consolidating power.

    Reuters reports that the latest election may in fact be put on hold as the government struggles to draft new election laws.

    "This is not a postponement but because of the intricacies involved in drafting election laws, elections will not happen this year," said Somjet Boonthanom, a member of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA). 

    Elections are now likely to be held in March or April of 2018, he said.


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    coup d'etat, military coup, coup, Chalermchai Sitthisat, Bangkok, Thailand
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