Bangkok — Thailand’s navy chief said on Wednesday that it was most unlikely the military would stage a coup even if the political unrest continues after His Majesty the King’s birthday celebrations on December 5.
Admiral Narong Pipatanasai said the commanders of the three Thai military branches had discussed the political situation, and had come to a consensus that they would not take a leading role in solving the conflict, according to reports.
He said the armed forces had requested the government ease up on its opposition to the protesters to avoid clashes on the King’s 86th birthday on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the police allowed protesters into the grounds of the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Government House, bringing about a pause in the anti-government protests.
The admiral also said the armed forces also wanted to avoid being involved in the meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban last Sunday night, a meeting that was set up after army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha had called for both sides to meet and talk.
But the navy chief said, “During the meeting, the military did not make any proposal or threat. It was only acting as a mediator for the two sides”.
The admiral insisted the military would not intervene in the matter again, saying other groups more proficient in politics and administrative legislation are more qualified for the task, the Bangkok Post reported.
“The armed forces don’t have sufficient knowledge about the situation to give any more suggestions, because the current problem is a political one that involves administrative laws. Politicians, academics and members of the private sector should be the ones who lead the country to a peaceful solution,” he said.
Thailand has had some 18 coups or attempted coups since the absolute monarchy ended in 1932. The last one was in 2006 when a military coup overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government, an event that has resulted in periodic street protests, unrest, and clashes from both sides of the political divide ever since.