Army chief refuses to rule out fresh coup

Army chief refuses to rule out fresh coup

New Royal Thai Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong says there could be a coup if new political disagreement breaks out after the election. (File photos)
New Royal Thai Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong says there could be a coup if new political disagreement breaks out after the election. (File photos)

New army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong has not ruled out another military coup if fresh political unrest breaks out after the country switches back to civilian rule following a general election next year.

Asked by a reporter if he was prepared to launch another coup, Gen Apirat said: "If politics does not create riots, nothing will happen."

There have been more than 10 military coups in the past, but recent ones were the result of political unrest, Gen Apirat said.

Gen Apirat's father, Gen Sunthorn, was a leader of the 1991 coup that ousted the elected government of Chatichai Choonhavan. It ended very badly a year later when troops killed an unknown number of people protesting the army rule in the Black May tragedy of 1992.

Thailand has been under military rule since the May 2014 coup, which the army said was necessary to restore order after months of anti-government protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

In 2006, the military led by then army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin staged a coup that toppled the government of Thaksin Shinawatra.

When Gen Prayut staged his coup in 2014, Gen Apirat was serving as commander of the 1st Division, King's Guard, based in Bangkok, which was a key unit in the putsch.

Soldiers were ordered at the time to maintain order, and were not thinking of taking political power, Gen Apirat said.

"I believe Gen Prayut did not have such an idea. But he had to make a sacrifice. If Gen Prayut had not made the decision, no one could say what would have happened," Gen Apirat said.

He praised Gen Prayut for his dedication while serving as army chief. "He is my role model," Gen Apirat said.

"I really hope violent incidents will not re-occur because of political rivalry. It is the country that stands to lose. The military will never defeat the people. But those who incite unrest, make bombs are the losers and make the country suffer," he said.


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Vocabulary

  • coup: the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร
  • incite: to encourage people to be violent or commit crimes by making them angry or excited - ยั่วยุ ยุยงให้เกิดความรุนแรง
  • order: a situation in which everything is well organized or arranged - ความเป็นระเบียบเรียบร้อย
  • oust: to force to leave a position of power - ขับออกจากอำนาจ
  • putsch (noun): an attempt to get rid of a government by using force, made by military leaders or politicians; a coup - รัฐประหาร
  • riot: a violent protest by a group of people - ความไม่สงบ การจลาจล
  • sacrifice: important or valuable things given up, so that you or other people can have or do something else - ความเสียสละเพื่อส่วนรวม
  • topple: to force out of power; to cause to fall (also oust, unseat or overthrow) - โค่นอำนาจ
  • tragedy: a very sad event that causes people to suffer or die - โศกนาฏกรรม
  • unrest: angry or violent behaviour by people who are protesting or fighting against something - สถานการณ์ที่ไม่สงบ

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