Army chief gives conditional no-coup promise

Army chief gives conditional no-coup promise

Army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae gives an interview after his first press conference at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Wassana Nanuam)
Army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae gives an interview after his first press conference at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Wassana Nanuam)

New army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae says the chance of a coup is zero unless conditions deteriorate, urging people to prevent that.

Gen Narongphan, who took the position last Thursday, held his first press conference on Tuesday after a meeting of armed forces and police chief at the army headquarters on the previous day.

Asked whether he could assure there would be no coup during his three-year tenure ending in 2023, he declined to reply directly. "Every army chief has been asked this question and he invariably says the chance was zero 'on condition that no one causes a conflict that leads to violence and unrest'," he said.

When the question was repeated, he said: "The chance is none. I think that there is no such situation in Thailand because our country is now at its best. It's evident that the country has the most freedom and plentiful resources which guarantee a happy life.

"Everyone wants to be in Thailand, especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic... Therefore, we must help each other get rid of such conditions," the army chief said.

The 57-year-old general said political problems must be addressed by political solutions and he was a government official who had to follow the policies of the government, defence minister and defence forces chief.

Asked about the protection of the royal institution, Gen Narongphan said four things were on his mind —the nation, religions, the king and people. "I will do whatever it takes to ensure security," he added.

He said whatever he would do complied with the ideologies of the army.

Gen Narongphan said people calling for the reform of the royal institution should look at themselves first to see whether they had done everything right before "telling others what to do".

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