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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand Coup



Thailand's military tightens grip



Thai military leaders have begun consolidating their hold on power after staging a coup while the prime minister was at the UN General Assembly.

Martial law has been declared, and the coup leaders have announced that regional commanders will take charge of areas outside the capital, Bangkok.

Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin said in a TV address that the coup was necessary to unite the country.

The military had no intention of holding onto power, he added.

Flanked by the heads of the three services and the police, and backed by giant portraits of the king and queen, Gen Sonthi said in the brief address that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's policies had created serious divisions.

"We have seized power. The constitution, the senate, the house of representatives, the cabinet and the constitutional court have all been terminated," he said.

"We agreed that the caretaker prime minister has caused an unprecedented rift in society, widespread corruption, nepotism, and interfered in independent agencies, crippling them so they cannot function.

"If the caretaker government is allowed to govern it will hurt the country.

"They have also repeatedly insulted the king. Thus the council needed to seize power to control the situation, to restore normality and to create unity as soon as possible."

The coup leaders have ordered provincial governors and heads of government agencies to report to them in the coming hours.

The country's stock market, banks and schools will be closed on Wednesday, which has been declared a public holiday.

BBC World, CNN and other international TV news channels have been taken off the air, while Thai stations have broadcast footage of the royal family and patriotic son
So why did this happen?


Thailand's countdown coup


Thailand's latest political crisis traces its roots back to January when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sold his family's stake in the telecoms firm Shin Corp.

The move angered many, mainly urban Thais, who complained that the family avoided paying tax and had passed control of an important national asset to Singaporean investors.

It led to mass protests and calls for the resignation of the prime minister, who was already under pressure over his handling of a Muslim insurgency in the south and his extensive control over the media.

In a bid to tackle the crisis, and to show he still had widespread public support despite regular massive street protests in Bangkok, Mr Thaksin dissolved parliament in February and called a snap election for April.

Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party won 57% of the vote in the April election, but millions of Thais cast protest votes and the opposition refused to take part.

After weeks of limbo, Thailand's highly-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej called the situation a "mess" and ordered the courts to sort it out.

posted by Steve @ 12:03:00 AM

12:03:00 AM

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