I am making a prediction here and now. It may fail. It may fall flat on its face and bloggers aplenty can come back to mock me. But I believe there is a strong chance it can happen.
Let me give some brief preamble. The next general election in Thailand is set for December 23rd. It is of course, the date when we will supposedly see General Sonthi and his junta return power back to the people. Some pundits believe the army will be reluctant to truly do this for two main reasons. Firstly, they want to keep control to ensure they receive "benefits", secondly they fear clansmen of Thaksin Shiniwat could return to power (despite the best efforts to ban them) and render the coup futile.
And I notice that in the run up to the election, Sonthi has been making frequent references to vote buying. Vote buying is a crime all parties are linked with, but especially TRT and Thaksin since they are associated with the poorer demographic of Thailand. ( And also because, well, it's true! TRT engaged in large scale vote buying in various forms).
It seems strange Sonthi should so suddenly and vocally care about a clean election. It seems strange that the one form of fraud he should speak out against is the one most associated with Thaksin and his ilk. It seems strange that his quotes are timed this way, just like his quotes on Singapore spying just before the army requested a few extra billion for a satellite. It seems strange that he so suuddenly wants to set up a vote fraud panel with .....guess who? ....as the head. (Yet again Sonthi is telling the ECC that he will do their job for them, does this mean the ECC panel's salaries will not be charged to the taxpayer?)
My prediction is this: If the PPP (People Power Party, the group closely associated with Thaksin and TRT) win "too many" seats at the election and give themselves a large stake in the inevitable coalition government, Sonthi will move to stop them.
He will do this by either a) Claming some regional seats as invalid due to vote buying b) Declaring the election invalid and ordering a re-election. (Drastic? Yes. More drastic than a coup? No) c) Ordering a Gore Vs Bush style re-count in certain provinces, under allegations of vote buying.
I believe the junta are desperate to ensure that Abhisit and the Democrats take control, as the junta see them as soft and easy to control. I believe the sudden unctuous cries to beware vote fraud are really a pretext for taking control of the electorate. This way, Sonthi can claim he is not shafting any party (as has already been predicted and denied) but is simply playing fair.
Don't get me wrong, everyone knows I hate vote fraud, but I doubt the sincerity our rulers are expressing here.
So there is my prediction, come back to mock me after December 23rd.