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

Election Commission proceeded with its bid to ban Move Forward Party (MFP), while peace process between govt and main southern separatist group awaited next step amid violence in deep south.

Election-winning party faced prospect of dissolution. After Constitutional Court 31 Jan ruled that election-winning MFP must desist from attempting to amend Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, Election Commission 12 March requested Constitutional Court to disband MFP and 18 March submitted petition to court in that vein. Constitutional Court next day asked Election Commission to submit further documents. If court eventually accepts case and dissolves MFP, party’s executives will be banned from politics for ten years. MFP’s dissolution could trigger protests, considering ban of MFP’s progenitor, Future Forward Party, sparked months-long nationwide demonstrations in 2020.

Deep south peace process technical talks continued. Following first meeting in Feb in over a year between delegations of govt and main southern separatist armed group Barisan Revolusi Nasional, four expert observers of dialogue 2 March issued public statement, identifying themselves for first time, “to underscore the significance of commitments achieved thus far between the main parties”; sides 20 Feb and 7-8 March held technical-level talks. Thai delegation 24 March said talks remain on track in spite of continued violence, with technical talks expected late April. 

Violence continued in deep south. Notably, militants 9 March detonated 25kg IED targeting car transporting three rangers in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat province. Militants 10 March threw pipe bombs targeting Subdistrict Administration Organisation chief at café in Thung Yang Daeng district, Pattani province; motorcycle-borne militants 18 March shot and killed deputy chief of Subdistrict Administration Organisation in same district. As authorities 14 March surrounded two militants in apartment who refused to surrender, pair engaged in 30-minute gun battle that left both dead in Saiburi district, Pattani province. Militants 22 March staged 45 IED and arson attacks across Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla and Yala provinces; one female migrant worker from Myanmar was killed by shrapnel in Mayo district, Pattani.

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In The News

9 ต.ค. 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
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