RTA army chief assures there’ll be ‘no coups on his watch’

Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief General Narongpan Jittkaewtae.

Royal Thai Army (RTA) Chief General Narongpan Jittkaewtae assured the Thai public yesterday that there would be no coups on his watch, stating that the term should not exist in anyone’s vocabulary. General Narongpan is set to retire on September 30 and provided reassurances in the lead-up to the elections on Sunday. There have been concerns about possible unrest following the polls.

When questioned about the potential for future unrest and the military’s response, the Army Chief explained that he was not worried.

“I don’t worry. We have learned many lessons from the past. We have reached a point where democracy has to go ahead. Everyone should be mindful and avoid what should not be done.”

In response to inquiries about the possibility of another coup following the elections, General Narongpan urged reporters not to raise such matters, as it could create conflict. He asked that journalists refrain from using the term, and confirmed that the military had removed it from their vocabulary.

General Narongpan could not promise that the country would be peaceful but emphasized the importance of cooperation to achieve peace. He stated that the likelihood of a coup occurring is now zero. Furthermore, he explained that change is necessary for progress, but it should be a positive change.

The army chief went on to discuss the importance of maintaining peace to allow the economy to grow. He urged everyone to work together in the best interests of the country. General Narongpan also encouraged army personnel to vote in the upcoming elections, as a demonstration of their democratic rights.

He downplayed moves by some political parties to replace conscription with voluntary recruitment, stating that everyone has the right to agree or disagree with the policy.

If the Move Forward Party, critical of the military, were to be part of the government following the elections, General Narongpan said that it would be up to political parties to form a coalition while emphasizing that military personnel are not political office holders.

Finally, the army chief issued guidelines for army personnel on appropriate behaviour leading up to Sunday’s elections, warning that entering polling stations wearing T-shirts with political party logos is against the law.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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