Thailand’s junta has relinquished military rule in favour of pseudo-democracy in which a pro-military party governs with a narrow parliamentary majority. There are no obvious near-term triggers for political turmoil in Thailand, but the country’s fundamental political and social divisions have not been bridged, and there is potential for future conflict. In the deep south, the Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency continues, while the dialogue process appears moribund. Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of escalation in the south and limit medium-term threats to political stability by supporting strengthened democratic institutions and promoting substantive peace talks. 

CrisisWatch Thailand

Unchanged Situation

Constitutional Court considered case to ban election-winning Move Forward Party (MFP), militant attacks continued in deep south and hundreds fleeing Myanmar’s war crossed into Thailand.

Election-winning party faced prospect of dissolution. Constitutional Court 3 April accepted petition from Election Commission seeking dissolution of Move Forward Party (MFP), which won May 2023 elections, and 10 April said it would afford MFP more time to prepare, likely pushing decision to May; in March, Election Commission had found evidence that MFP’s policy to amend lèse-majesté law was tantamount to seeking to overthrow democratic system with king as head of state. MFP’s dissolution would disenfranchise 14.4m voters who opted for party in last election, raising risk of street protests. 

Militant attacks continued in deep south. In Narathiwat province, militants 7 April ambushed truck carrying rangers in Rueso district, killing two and wounding eight. Some twenty militants 28 April ambushed police on patrol in Sungai Kolok, with IEDs, pipe bombs and small arms, wounding four. In Pattani province, roadside IED attack 5 April wounded two rangers in Thung Yang Daeng district. Gunman 13 April shot dead Muslim soldier in Panare district. Assailant 14 April shot and killed sergeant in Saiburi district. In Yala province, gunmen shot and killed Muslim soldier in Than To district. Militants 19 April ambushed police patrol in Bannang Sata district, wounding officer. Gunmen 25 April killed defence volunteer in Bannang Sata district; soldiers responding were targeted by IED, wounding three. 

War in Myanmar spilled over Thai border. Amid heavy fighting in south east Myanmar as ethnic armed group early April sought to dislodge military forces from Myawaddy, key town on Thai border, PM Srettha Thavisin 7 April assessed “the current regime is starting to lose some strength” (see Myanmar). Govt 9 April announced task force to deal with fallout from conflict and willingness to accept up to 100,000 people seeking temporary shelter. Ministry of Public Health 20 April revealed 1,686 people had crossed border seeking refuge. Foreign ministry 24 April said it urged ASEAN chair Laos to form “troika” with Indonesia and Malaysia to engage Myanmar junta on easing crisis. 

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In The News

9 अक्टूबर 2022
There’s a sense of hopelessness [in Thailand] — that there’s no way to effect any kind of real change in the available political avenues. New York Times

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia

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Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
Matthew Wheeler

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