One Night in Bangkok: Update

After launching a coup, the army installed a Muslim as Thailand’s acting prime minister, and he wants to negotiate with the radical Islamists who are causing so many problems in the southern part of the country:

Thaksin recently alienated a segment of the military by claiming senior officers had tried to assassinate him in a failed bombing attempt. He also attempted to remove officers loyal to Sondhi from key positions.

Sondhi, who is known to be close to Thailand’s revered constitutional monarch, will serve as acting prime minister, army spokesman Col. Akarat Chitroj said. Sondhi, well-regarded within the military, is a Muslim in this Buddhist-dominated nation.

Sondhi, 59, was selected last year to head the army partly because it was felt he could better deal with the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, where 1,700 people have been killed since 2004. Recently, Sondhi urged negotiations with the separatists in contrast to Thaksin’s hard-fisted approach. Many analysts have said that with Thaksin in power, peace in the south was unlikely.

Again, Australian government officials call it as they see it:

The U.S. State Department said it was uneasy about the military takeover and hopes political differences can be resolved through democratic principles. “We are monitoring the situation with concern,” a statement said. “We continue to hope that the Thai people will resolve their political differences in accord with democratic principles and the rule of law.”

Australia used stronger language, saying it was concerned to see democracy “destroyed.”

“We deeply regret the fact that such a coup has taken place; obviously to see democracy destroyed in that way is a matter for grave concern to us,” Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio by telephone from New York.

Hat tip: LGF

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