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Indonesia drafts contingency plan amid Thai unrest

Publication Date : 03-12-2013

 

Amid the growing political unrest in Thailand, with protesters calling on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down, the Indonesian government has reiterated that it supported the current government in Thailand because it had been formed through a legitimate and democratic process.

However, Indonesia, which has always offered its own experience on the path to democratisation as a lesson to other nations, also said the nation should be prepared for the worst possible fallout from the conflict in Thailand.

“As we all know, the current Thai government is legitimate. Of course, our stance is to support all governments in the world that have been formed legitimately,” presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said on Monday.

“Foreign Minister [Marty Natalegawa] has been keeping President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono abreast of the situation in Thailand. The President instructed Marty to prioritise the safety of Indonesian citizens in Thailand with the drafting of proper contingency plans, in case of a worst-case scenario,” he added.

Echoing Julian’s statement, the presidental spokesman for foreign affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, said that Yudhoyono wanted Indonesians in Thailand to rest assured that the government was ready to help them.

“We call on all Indonesian citizens to be alert. I think for most of our countrymen in Thailand this is not the first instance of political turmoil in the country,” he said.

The Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok issued a circular warning Indonesian citizens to avoid potential hotspot areas. At least four people have died as a result of the current tumult.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s prime minister said Monday that she was willing to do anything to end the violent protests against her government and restore peace, but she could not accept the opposition’s “unconstitutional” demands to hand power to an unelected council.

Yingluck’s comments, broadcast in a televised news conference, were the clearest indication yet that negotiations are unlikely to solve the country’s increasingly violent political standoff.

As Yingluck spoke from the country’s heavily fortified national police headquarters, stone-throwing protesters battled through clouds of police tear gas in a renewed attempt to seize her office, Government House, and other key government buildings. As the day progressed, the protesters got hold of a garbage truck and a police truck, using them to break through parts of concrete barricades.

The protests aimed at toppling Yingluck’s government have renewed fears of prolonged instability in one of Southeast Asia’s biggest economies and comes just ahead of the peak holiday tourist season.

“If there’s anything I can do to bring peace back to the Thai people, I am happy to do it,” Yingluck said as reported by the Associated Press. “The government is more than willing to have talks, but I myself cannot see a way out of this problem that is within the law and in the constitution.”

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who met with Yingluck on Sunday night, has said he will not be satisfied with Yingluck’s resignation or new elections.

Instead, he wants an unelected “people’s council” to pick a new prime minister who would replace Yingluck, even though she was elected with an overwhelming majority. His demand has been criticised by many as undemocratic.

“I don’t know how we can proceed” with Suthep’s demand, she said. “We don’t know how to make it happen. Right now we don’t see any way to resolve the problem under the constitution,” she said in the brief 12-minute news conference.

 

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