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Thailand

Following the smooth royal succession, and with the military government firmly in control,there are no obvious triggers in Thailand for political turmoil in the near term. Yet the country’s fundamental political and social divisions have not been bridged, and there is potential for future conflict between elected and unelected authorities. In the deep south, the Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency continues, as does a sterile and slow-moving peace-dialogue process that is rejected by the main insurgent group. Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of escalation in the south and limit medium-term threats to political stability by supporting the strengthening of Thailand’s democratic institutions and promoting substantive peace talks.

CrisisWatch Thailand

Unchanged Situation

Eight-member delegation of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) visited Bangkok and southernmost provinces Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala 27 Feb-1 March; expressed support for peace dialogue process with MARA Patani and affirmed that security measures imposed by govt do not disproportionately affect Muslims in region. Commander of Fourth Army Region Lt Gen Piyawat Nakwanich, responsible for southern provinces, 28 Feb made comments to media casting doubt on dialogue process between Bangkok and MARA Patani, which responded 23 March with statement expressing concern over Piyawat’s remarks, affirming its commitment to solving conflict through dialogue and noting that talks remain at technical level and nothing, including “safety zone” announced in mid-February, has been finalised. National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) faced continued public demonstrations demanding general election, and growing pressure from political parties for end to ban on political activity. PM Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters 27 Feb that an election will take place in February 2019, provided right conditions are in place including maintenance of peace and order; previous five promises to hold elections have been broken. National Legislative Assembly 19 March forwarded organic law on senate selection to Constitutional Court, which opens possibility that law could be struck down and redrafted, further delaying general election. Election Commission opened registration for new political parties 2 March. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon 29 March said that ban on political activities will be lifted in June.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

10 Jun 2017
[The Barisan Revolusi Nasional sees its struggle as] nationalist and anti-colonial. Subordinating their struggle to a forlorn agenda imposed by outsiders would be counter-productive, if not suicidal. The Straits Times

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
28 Apr 2017
The militants [of the National Revolutionary Front] continue to demonstrate that they have the capabilities to launch attacks across the region despite of the security measures by the Thai state. Voice of America

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
10 Apr 2017
[The main southern Thai insurgent group BRN] perceive the current (peace) process as one driven by Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for their own interests. AFP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
28 Aug 2016
The bombings [in Thailand] may have been intended to compel the military government to reconsider its approach to the conflict in the deep south. The Washington Post

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
24 Aug 2016
Two years of military rule haven't really resolved any of the fundamental problems [in Thailand] ... and the constitution won't succeed in doing that either. The day of reckoning is just being delayed. AP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia

Latest Updates

Watch List 2017 – Second Update

Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Asia

Government, Rebels Must End Pernicious Impasse

Originally published in Bangkok Post

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Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
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