It appears as though the state of Thailand has just suffered a military coup as the opposition Party of Democratic Reform has announced that they have joined with the military to overturn the government of current Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thailand recently went through elections in April that were tainted by accusations of fraud. Prime Minister Thaksin had called for new elections to be carried out this November to try to resolve the impasse. It looks like the opposition party didn’t consider that to be good enough for them. Thaksin’s rule had been embattled for some time over allegations that he was using the power of the Thai government to benefit his own personal and family business interests. Currently Thaksin is in New York at the meeting of the UN General Assembly and is not in the country.
Thailand has been a staunch of ally of the United States, going as far as to commit some Thai troops to Iraq. It’s not at all certain how these events may effect that relationship. There’s also no certainty what repercussions this event may have on the region, especially the Asian financial markets. Certainly we wouldn’t want to see a return to the Asian Flu of 1997 which sent worldwide financial markets into disarray.
More on the coup as the story develops…
UPDATE: The International Herald-Tribune has some more background information on Thailand. The Thai King, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is wildly popular in the country, and the military has been stating that they are acting out of loyalty to him. It appears that this coup has been long-expected and is thus far non-violent.
Thailand has been facing a Muslim insurrection in the south of the country that some believe may be connected to the Southeast Asian al-Qaeda offshoot Jemaah Islamiah. The military has been at odds with Prime Minister Thaksin over how best to handle the problem, and their response has been widely criticized as heavy-handed. What this coup portends for that conflict is not yet known, but it could mean that the violence in that region could get worse.