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General elections in Thailand and Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar and Bangladesh


Thailand: Opposition secures landside victory in general elections

The security situation in Thailand remains calm immediately following the electoral victory of an opposition party seeking to unseat Thailand’s military-controlled government. Preliminary ballot counts for Thailand’s May 14 parliamentary elections indicate that the opposition Move Forward Party – which has called for restricting military involvement in politics and reforming lèse majesté laws – secured 152 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives (the lower house of the Thai legislature’s National Assembly). The main opposition party, Pheu Thai, secured 141 seats, compared to only 36 seats obtained by the United Thai Nation Party of current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The leader of the Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat, is currently in the process of forming a coalition government with other parties, including Pheu Thai, to secure an overall majority within the entire National Assembly. The combined success of the two leading opposition parties presents an opportunity to unseat Prayuth, who led the 2014 military coup before he was appointed Prime Minister. However, an opposition-led government is not guaranteed, as there are many possible combinations of parties that could reach the 376-vote threshold needed to select a Prime Minister – including coalitions that exclude the top-performing Move Forward and/or Pheu Thai. Given constitutional reforms under Prayuth’s rule requiring all 250 Senate seats to be appointed by the military, it is plausible that royalists and the military establishment could still retain control of the government. These Senate reforms, the disputed 2019 elections securing Prayuth’s rule, and the growing unpopularity of King Vajiralongkorn previously led to anti-government protests in 2020 and 2021 seeking democratic reforms and making unprecedented demands to curb the monarchy’s power. The formation of a government popularly perceived as contrary to the outcome of the election would likely reinvigorate the public sentiment that fueled previous episodes of civil unrest. Other possible developments that could destabilize the security situation in Thailand include the military or current government interfering with the democratic process – as exemplified by the dozen military coups executed in Thailand since 1932 and seen more recently in 2019 when the predecessor of the Move Forward Party was dissolved following an election victory. However, election officials have until mid-July to finalize the election results, and there is no formal deadline for government formation, suggesting that the presently calm environment in the country is unlikely to deteriorate in the near term.




South Asia: Cyclone underscores regional infrastructure challenges

Tropical Cyclone Mocha made landfall near Myanmar’s city of Sittwe on May 14, bringing heavy rains and flooding to western Myanmar and eastern Bangladesh that have resulted in casualties, significant infrastructure, and private property damage, as well as power outages and communications disruptions. The storm’s maximum sustained winds reached 155 mph (250 kph) before decreasing to 55 mph (90 kph) as it moved inland. Myanmar’s northern and western states – Rakhine, Magway, Sagaing, and Kachin – and Chattogram Division in Bangladesh – particularly the districts of Noakhali, Cox’s Bazar, and Chattogram – were the hardest hit. Humanitarian agencies in Myanmar reported that the storm killed at least 41 people and injured 700 others. The cyclone badly damaged public infrastructure, including hospitals and banks, disrupting essential services in the affected areas. The storm partially or completely destroyed more than 1,200 houses and inflicted significant damage to several Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps housing Rohingya refugees in western Rakhine. The threat of explosive ordinance remains elevated in conflict-affected rural areas in Chin and Rakhine states where landmines may have shifted due to flooding. Communication disruptions have complicated damage assessment in Bangladesh, although government officials reported that at least 12,600 homes were damaged or destroyed across the Chattogram Division, and Rohingya IDP camps in the Cox’s Bazar area were severely affected. Bangladesh did not report any fatalities, likely due to the preemptive evacuation of more than 14,000 people from low-lying areas. Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar airports suspended flight operations prior to the storm’s arrival but have both since reopened. Cyclone Mocha weakened to a tropical depression by May 15 as it continued tracking inland; however, heavy rain is forecast over both Myanmar and Bangladesh for the next 24 hours, which could trigger additional flooding and mudslides and hamper ongoing relief and recovery operations.

Exlog Global

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