US certifies Thailand’s return to democracy

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a file photo. Photo: US State Dept.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a file photo. Photo: US State Dept.

The United States has certified that Thailand is again a democracy, according to the U.S. Federal Register.

The declaration by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that “a democratically elected government has taken office in Thailand” was the only hurdle remaining to full restoration of ties following the 2014 coup d’etat. It was published over the weekend before he departed Washington to attend ASEAN meetings in Bangkok this week.

Was Thailand’s flawed election democratic enough? Maybe for Washington

The declaration was required under U.S. law to restore full diplomatic and military ties as sought by the militaries of both nations. It had reportedly been opposed by many in the State Department, as well as rights advocates and foreign policy experts. They said it was wrong to certify an election in which the rules were bent in favor of the former junta leader who continues to systematically target dissidents and critics. At about the same time Pompeo’s decision was made public, the US military announced that Thailand had agreed to spend US$175 million (THB5.4 billion) to buy 60 armored vehicles.

On Monday, the State Department announced that President Trump had nominated Michael George DeSombre, an international business law attorney, to be the next ambassador to Thailand. The post has been vacant nearly a year since the departure of Glyn T. Davies.

Desombre is also worldwide president of Republicans Overseas, which he co-founded six years ago.

Update: This story has been updated with additional details.

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Was Thailand’s flawed election democratic enough? Maybe for Washington

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