THE PARADOX of a military coup in a middle-income country like Thailand is that while the urban citizenry treat it as a novelty, the junta is now finding out that throwing out a government is easier than building a new one, without a Constitution to guide them.
Sunday saw the Royal Plaza, where the Government House is being guarded by M41/A tanks, thronged by people eager to get a personal piece of history. It looked like a national holiday, with Bangkokians, many of them wearing the royal-yellow colour, treating the centre of Tuesday night's political turmoil as a picnic spot. The semblance of a 'yellow revolution' masked the fact that Tuesday's military coup, which ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was exactly the opposite.
The difficulty facing the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy, as it is called, shows in the daily headlines. Each day announces a new candidate for the post of interim prime minister, which the junta, headed by army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, promised would be appointed two weeks after the coup. The interim government will help, over the next year, draw up a new Constitution, in time for elections around October 2007.
Over the past few days, the names of technocrats with a background in economics have been floated, but the buzz in Bangkok is that they are politely declining the offer. Former WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi, who is at UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), has a year to go in Geneva and is reportedly not keen to return.