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2019 08 12 Publish

Future Forward Party, which campaigned with a promise to end junta rule, won 80 seats in parliament in the March 2019 election, surprising everyone by taking the third-largest number of representatives overall, despite the junta’s efforts to push the outcome in favor of pro-military candidates

A day before parliament was set to reopen in May, Thailand’s constitutional court suspended Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit’s status as a member of the legislative body, after he was accused of breaking an electoral law by holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 general election. Thanathorn rejected the allegations and said he had divested his interests at V-Luck Media, transferring his stocks to his mother in January

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, has faced criticism for allegedly failing to properly take his oath of office during the inauguration of his Cabinet on July 16. Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the Future Forward Party secretary-general, pointed out during a parliamentary session on July 25 that Prayuth had failed to recite the oath in full when he omitted a phrase in the oath of office, in which he was supposed to pledge to uphold every aspect of the constitution

2019 08 19 Publish

Thai officials knowledgeable on security matters in the country’s Deep South told BenarNews on Monday they believe the largest rebel fighting force in the insurgency-wracked region was behind recent bombings in Bangkok. They claimed the bombings were aimed at drawing international attention to ongoing violence in the three Malay-speaking, majority-Muslim provinces near Thailand’s southern border, where more than 7,000 people have been killed in insurgency-related attacks in the past 15 years. The comments came after a senior member of the National Revolutionary Front (BRN) told Reuters in a recent interview that the group was not involved in the blasts

‘I trust BRN operatives traveled to Bangkok to mount attacks in order to make news and draw foreign attention to intervene in Deep South violence. Lately, foreign countries do not pay attention to the ‘daily’ shootings or bombings,’ a security source told BenarNews

Many of the suspects have a record of links to the BRN, said the source, an intelligence officer based in the Deep South who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. ‘I’m confident these attacks were carried out by the BRN operatives,’ a senior military official told BenarNews, also speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason. He pointed to a spate of 11 bomb blasts in August 2016 in multiple locations in southern Thailand as evidence that rebels do not confine their activities to the Deep South. ‘They scouted areas where they wanted to attack many months in advance before they attacked those provinces,’ the official said

The leader of a BRN combat unit later claimed responsibility for those attacks, which killed four. Four insurgents were found guilty that same year for bomb blasts that injured six people at a Bangkok university in 2013

Thailand has ‘no links’ to any foreign militant group, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha said Tuesday, after Egyptian authorities arrested a Thai student over suspicions that he supported Islamic State extremists. The Thai Embassy in Cairo has not identified the detained student but posted a statement on its Facebook page Saturday, saying it had taken steps to help him. It said the student was arrested on Sept. 24 after security officials ‘found photos that might indicate a link to IS’ on his mobile phone

According to the embassy, the arrest took place after a TV station in Egypt had ‘disseminated a clip’ online allegedly showing the student expressing his support for the Islamic State [IS] group during an interview. Prayuth did not mention the student’s name, but said the Thai Foreign Ministry was dealing with authorities in Egypt. He said Thai Ambassador Chainarong Keratiyutwong had discussed the student’s arrest with Hazem El Tahry, deputy vice minister of the Egyptian foreign ministry, who ‘promised to follow up the case and cooperate with Thailand’

The arrested student had previously been detained in Sudan and he relocated to Egypt because he could not carry on with his studies there, Reuters news service quoted Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as saying

On Monday, a shopkeeper in the Thai Deep South told BenarNews that her 25-year-old son, Aiproheng Malee, was the student taken into custody in Egypt, but she denied that he had ties with militants

It was not immediately clear if charges had been filed against Aiproheng. The Thai embassy in Cairo was trying to gain permission to visit the student to provide legal and consular assistance, Thai officials told BenarNews on Monday. Officials at the Egyptian embassy in Bangkok, meanwhile, did not immediately respond to inquiries from Benar

Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, has a majority-Muslim population in its Deep South region, where a separatist insurgency has killed almost 7,000 people since the conflict reignited in early 2004, according to rights groups

While Thai officials have brushed off the threat of an IS presence in the country, officials in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia have been warning about the group’s growing influence in recruiting local youths on their countries’ home soil

Prayuth told reporters that Thai embassies and diplomats had been instructed to make sure that the nation’s youths who are studying abroad would come back and build a career in their homeland