Pattaya Daily News

20 September 2006 :: 17:09:59 pm 29979

Thai coup leader promises to return power to the people

Thailand‘s Army Commander-in-Chief who led a bloodless coup d‘etat on Tuesday night and dismissed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra while the ex-premier was in New York said Wednesday the coup was necessary to reunite the kingdom and vowed to return power to the people soon.
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Flanked by the three armed forces chiefs and the head of the national police force, Army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said in a televised address to the nation early Wednesday that the coup was necessary to bring back unity to the country which had become deeply divided under the administration of Mr.Thaksin.

It is Thailand‘s first coup attempt in 15 years. There were 19 military interventions, or attempts to change the government of the day, in the nearly 60 years between 1932 and 1991.

Gen. Sonthi pledged that the military had no intention to hold onto power and will return power to the Thai people as soon as possible.

The army chief reemphasised that the Administrative Reform Council carried out the coup to end the serious rift in society, rampant corruption in the government, activities deemed ‘lese majeste‘ to His Majesty the King, and interference in the work of independent organisations

It is unclear whether the ousted prime minister intends to return home. Mr. Thaksin has been staying at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York and reportedly wants to go to London.

Thaksin has been at the centre of Thailand‘s months-long political crisis after marathon street protests since March to pressure him to resign amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

His policy towards the simmering insurgency in the far South, which has claimed more than 1,700 lives since it erupted in 2004, has been blamed for intensified violence.

The U.S. State Department said it was uneasy about the military takeover, and said in a statement it hopes “the Thai people will resolve their political differences in accord with democratic principles and the rule of law.‘‘

“It‘s unacceptable for the military just to overthrow a government in this way,” Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer who is in New York attending the UN General Assembly meeting told local media, urging a return to democracy in Thailand.

He made the comments as Canberra issued a travel advisory warning to its nationals to reconsider their planned travel to Thailand following the overnight coup.

Within ASEAN, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was “really shocked” by the coup and called for a return to democratic rule in Thailand but his government had not advised Malaysians to avoid their northern neighbour, Malaysia‘s Bernama news agency reported.

A spokesman for Singapore‘s foreign ministry said: “Thailand is an important country in the region and prolonged uncertainties there will be a setback for Thailand and the region as a whole.

“We hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible”.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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