What happened on Monday in Thailand appears to be a soft coup, martial law has been imposed and the Army is in control of the streets and television stations.
The country has been wracked by political paralysis over the last 10 years and the scenario was an open invitation to the Army to intervene. However, the caretaker civilian government under Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan is still in place, and the Army Chief with royalist leanings has asked warring factions to sit down and talk.
India’s solidarity with the people of one of the working democracies of the region, a prosperous one with close trade ties and strong bilateral bonds should be reflected in our hope that democracy will get back on its feet fast.
The complicated election process was scuttled early this year by anti-government demonstrators, Red Shirts, who have sustained their protests over a prolonged period even as the elected Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was dismissed by the court last December, indicating that every arm of civil society governance has been involved with the existing situation.
The obvious way out would be for free and fair polls and India could offer assistance. The problem lies in Thai society having showed an inclination not to trust the popular vote, which the billionaire Shinawatras still command with the poor backing them. Any civilian government that lives under the shadow of the military intervention would only be beholden to the military top brass....