Suu Kyi wades into Thailand crisis

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has drawn the ire of Thai politicians after claiming that the country’s instability resulted from a constitution that was drawn up by the military.

She reportedly told lawyer Nyan Win that Burma “need not look very far” to see that “a new government coming to power under a constitution drawn up by the military will never be stable,” according to AFP.

“We just see Thailand. [Former prime minister] Thaksin was an elected person. The military seized the power from an elected person. The constitution was drawn up by the military.”

“After that, what happened with the first [government]? It was not stable,” she said of the short-lived administration that followed the coup. “This was a result of the constitution being written by the military.”

In an interview with the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine today, however, Nyan Win said that Suu Kyi had in fact not mentioned Thaksin’s name during their conversation.

Thailand is currently in the grip of its worst political instability in years, with pro-Thaksin ‘red shirt’ protestors blockading key areas of Bangkok’s financial district. A fortnight ago 25 people, including nine soldiers, died after clashes between red shirts and the army.

Current prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has refused to dissolve parliament, the red shirts’ key demand, as fears grow of another outbreak in violence. Thai troops stationed near to the red shirt encampment have been permitted by Abhisit to use live ammunition against protestors.

Meanwhile, Burma is due to go to the polls later this year, despite criticism that the 2008 constitution, rushed through by the junta in the wake of cyclone Nargis in May 2008, is intended to cement military rule.

Suu Kyi’s comments have angered the upper echelons of the Thai government, whose grip on power is now looking tenuous.

Thai news agency Matichon quoted a Thai senator as saying that he was “so very disappointed” with the comments “because Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi should understand Thailand better”.

He also reportedly demanded that an “audit of the financial path” to Suu Kyi be made public to see whether she had “received support from anyone,” likely a reference to Thaksin.

Thai government spokesperson Panitan Wattan added that Thailand has had a “democratic system for a long time when other countries have never been democratic”, despite Thailand suffering 18 coups since 1930.

Thaksin’s relations with the Burmese junta during his five years in power are also controversial. During his recent court case he was accused of providing Burma with a $US120 million low-interest credit line, in part to purchase equipment and services from his Shin Corp company.

Shin Corp in 2003 also signed a multi-million dollar deal with Bagan Cybertech, an internet service provider headed by the son of former prime minister, Khin Nyunt.

Thaksin is also known to have offered financial rewards to red shirt protestors actively opposing the current Thai government, which may be the reason behind the Thai senator’s accusation that Suu Kyi is on his payroll.

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