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Thailand - Somdhat Replaces Surayud As Army Chief (3 Aug 2002)
Yesterday, Army Chief-of-Staff General Somdhat Attanand was announced as the new army commander with effect from October 1st. He will succeed General Surayud Chulanont who in turn will take over the position of Supreme Commander.

General Surayud Chulanont will replace Admiral Narong Yutthawong who is due to retire next month.

Analysts believe that the reason for the reshuffle was due to General Surayud inflexible outlook on the Thai-Burmese Border conflict. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had expressed his displeasure with Gen Surayud who was recently held responsible by Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai for damaging Thai-Burmese relations. The premier also remarked on the difficulties faced on implementing defence policy in specific areas.

This was said in response to the Thai-Burmese border dispute that was a result of Shan rebel attacks on Burmese military outposts on May 20. Burma accused the Thai army of supporting the Shan rebels and closed its entire border two days later. The Thai army denied the accusations.

One military source believed that Gen Surayud was moved out of the army to appease Rangoon as the shift was made three days ahead of Mr. Surakiart's scheduled visit to Rangoon.

Other positions appointed in the military reshuffle were the positions of Admiral Taweesak Somapha as Navy Commander and Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Wantana as Air Force Commander.