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Prayuth distances army from politics

Posted by arnon_k On May - 11 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha reaffirmed on Wednesday the army will not interfere in politics even though there have been attempts by certain elements to implicate it in political movements.

Some news media have also continued to mislead the public into believing there will be another military coup, the army chief said.

“I have said many times that we soldiers have our own duties. Don’t implicate soldiers in every matter,” he said.

Asked about the military’s role in the general election, Gen Prayuth said the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) is responsible for intelligence operations; it will report to police if it learns of any suspicious activities which may disrupt the polls.

Like all Thai people, soldiers are concerned about the state of law and order in the country, he said.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of both the authorities and the people to cooperate against all forms of illegal acticvities, he said.

Prayuth insists troops must vacate border

Posted by arnon_k On May - 4 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

30 monitors to deploy after terms approved
The Army chief yesterday reiterated the precondition set out by the army and government that Cambodia withdraw all of its troops from the 4.6 sq km disputed border area before Indonesian observers can be deployed.

“If they [Cambodia] do not agree, the battle will have to continue. We can keep fighting each other or we can end the battle with dialogue,” army commander in chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya earlier met with Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, who is the current chairman of Asean, to discuss the terms of reference (ToR) for the deployment of 30 Indonesian observers along the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple.

The Foreign Ministry has proposed the ToR to the Cabinet, which it should consider carefully, Gen Prayuth said.

“If those observers were to be deployed, there must be no soldiers on the Preah Vihear mountain. It does not matter who comes in, the government will be the one to approve their presence. But if they want to come, there must be a ToR governing their presence,” Gen Prayuth said.

The army chief added that the Foreign Ministry would lobby the Cabinet for approval of the ToR. He has personally gone through essential details of the proposal and insisted it states that there must be no troops present at Preah Vihear Temple in addition to nearby communities and Buddhist temples.

On Monday night, border skirmishes resumed between Thai and Cambodian troops near the Ta Kwai Temple in Tambon Bak Dai in Surin province. One Thai soldier was killed and three others injured.

The latest clash featured fighting with personal rifles, grenade launchers and hand grenades, according to Lt Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon, commander of the 2nd Army.

About 500 residents of Tambon Bak Dai who had recently returned home again had to flee from their communities to Nikhom Prasat evacuation centre on Monday night.

Eight Thai soldiers have been killed and 120 others injured during the latest and deadliest round of Thai-Cambodian fighting, which started 11 days ago.

Gen Prayuth insisted that Thai troops had never fired first.

Lt Gen Tawatchai said small skirmishes had occurred on a daily basis since a ceasefire was declared last Thursday. The skirmish on Monday night broke out because Cambodian military leaders could not control some of their soldiers. The 2nd Army had tried to prevent further clashes by sending commanding officers to the frontline, so that they could talk to Cambodian military commanders and discuss plans to prevent further skirmishes between both sides.

Prayuth: Army will follow govt orders

Posted by arnon_k On April - 25 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The government will decide whether to go to war with Cambodia over the disputed border, and the army is ready to follow orders from the government, national army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday.

However, he believed there should be bilateral meetings, not a war, because people from both sides were being hurt by the conflict, Gen Prayuth said.

“If Cambodia doesn’t want to negotiate, then it will not be necessary for us to negotiate either,” the army chief said.

Thai troops sent to the border area had not retreated, and had retaliated in kind.

“The Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Thai armed forces don’t agree with having third-party observers in the disputed border area, but if it is required there must be regulations to cover it and all troops from the two countries must move out of the area.

“I don’t think there is any country that wants foreign troops to invade its territory, and it is not necessary to have third-party observers at this time,” Gen Prayuth added.

Indonesian help sought on conflict

Posted by arnon_k On April - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha will travel to Indonesia today to seek cooperation from Jakarta in trying to control the southern conflict.

An army source said Gen Prawit and Gen Prayuth were scheduled to meet today with the Indonesian defence minister and army chief to discuss issues related to the separatist movement and insurgency in Thailand’s deep South.

An army source believes a meeting may also have been organised with Indonesian terrorism experts and people directly connected to insurgency groups.

Gen Prawit and Gen Prayuth left Thailand at 4am on an Air Force aircraft and will return from Indonesia tonight.

They were expected to ask for help in monitoring whether young members and sympathisers of the rebel group in the three southern border provinces _ Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat _ were receiving militant training in some parts of Indonesia or on some of its remote islands.

Many Thai-Muslim students in the southernmost provinces travel to Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, to further their studies.

“Thai authorities fear that the movement [of southern rebels] may involve the JI [Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group], so they want to ask Jakarta to closely monitor the matter,” the source said.

Army intelligence indicates southern militants had been trained in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, about five years ago, the source said.

The meeting was said to have been arranged as an urgent matter by Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who attended the Joint Boundary Committee meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, two weeks ago.

Indonesian authorities are thought to be organising contact between the Thai army officials and local experts and insiders of the insurgency groups.

Gen Prawit and Gen Prayuth learned of the trip only on Tuesday, according to the source.

One topic likely to be discussed was the possibility of allowing Indonesian observers to enter the disputed Thai-Cambodia border area around the Preah Vihear temple complex.