Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Pic: AP.
Source: Asian Correspondent
1st June 2016
THAILAND’S obstinate Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said that he plans to stay in power until peace has been restored to the country, “despite how much you hate me”.
“Frankly speaking, I won’t go anywhere as long as the country is not at peace and in order. I won’t leave, despite how much you hate me,” he said during a forum in Bangkok, reported the Bangkok Post.
Prayuth added that if he had to, he would utilize the 200,000 soldiers currently at his disposal to continue to lead the country.
“Without soldiers, Thailand can go nowhere. Nowadays, we are using soldiers to steer the country. Our troops aren’t meant to fight anybody or to persecute politicians,” he said.
The junta leader, known for his oft-controversial comments, was responding to an increasing sense of dissatisfaction from the public with the military regime’s rule.
Since coming into power in May 2014, the military government has sworn to restore stability and democracy to the country, but has instead cracked down on free speech, outlawed political activities, used Thailand’s strict lèse majesté laws to go after dissenters, and drafted a new constitution charter designed to ensure the military’s continued influence in the government.
Most of the politicians who have dared to speak up against the government have been arrested and sent to “attitude adjustment” camps.
However, the junta appears to have softened its stance, as it recently lifted an overseas travel banon a group of politicians and activists, and promised to move the “attitude adjustment” camps from military camps to government buildings and police stations.
A draft constitution, which has been panned by critics, is due to undergo a referendum on August 7. Many fear that if the charter is rejected in the upcoming referendum, it may mean going back to square one, despite the government’s promise that elections will take place in 2017, regardless of what happens in the referendum.
'ประยุทธ์'เปรยปาฐกถายาวเพื่อช่วยสื่อสิ่งพิมพ์โอดโดนสื่อยกบ้าอำนาจ บอกไม่บ้าก็ยืนตรงนี้ไม่ได้https://t.co/TdgXBARn9R pic.twitter.com/fTdIGLeb3f— VoiceTV21 (@Voice_TV) June 2, 2016