Friday, May 23, 2014

Thailand Coup: Military Leader Summons Politicians
Thai military load activists aboard buses during coup.
BBC World News

Thailand's military leader has summoned more than 100 key political figures to a meeting in Bangkok, a day after taking power in a coup.

Ousted leader Yingluck Shinawatra, the acting PM and his government, and protest leaders were among those told to report in to the army.

It was not clear why they were summoned or how many would attend the meeting.

Thursday's coup, which followed months of anti-government protests, has drawn widespread international criticism.

The military suspended the constitution, banned gatherings and detained politicians, saying order was needed after months of turmoil.

The move came two days after it declared martial law in the protest-hit nation.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "no justification" for the coup, adding that $10m in bilateral aid could be suspended.

The UN expressed serious concern, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging a "prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule".

Thais, meanwhile, spent the night under a curfew which ran from 22:00 to 05:00. Bangkok was reported to be largely peaceful after the coup.

One key flashpoint was the pro-government "red shirt" camp on Bangkok's western outskirts but protesters packed up without violence on Thursday.

There was heavy traffic on the streets as the curfew deadline loomed but they were largely deserted overnight.

Television has been restricted to broadcasts by the military. The BBC, CNN and other channels are off air.

'Work as normal'

Military leader General Prayuth Chan-Ocha - who has appointed himself the new prime minister - said troops were taking power "in order for the country to return to normal quickly".

"All Thais must remain calm and government officials must work as normal," he said in a televised address announcing the coup.

The move came after two days of talks between the rival political factions.

Several key figures at the talks, including opposition protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and pro-government protest leader Jatuporn Prompan, were immediately detained.

The military then issued a bulletin spelling out the key points of the takeover:

Key coup conditions
Curfew nationwide from 22:00 to 05:00
Gen Prayuth to head ruling National Peace and Order Maintaining Council
Senate and courts to continue operating
2007 constitution suspended except for chapter on monarchy
Political gatherings of more than five people banned, with penalties of up to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht ($300; £180) fine, or both
Social media platforms could be blocked if they carry material with provocative content

Thailand's armed forces, which have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, acted after months of political deadlock.

Thailand has faced a power struggle since Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.

Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have strong support in rural areas, which has won them multiple elections. But they are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite, who are at the heart of the current protest movement.

The latest unrest began in the Thai capital late last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Ms Yingluck's government.

A court ordered her removal for alleged abuse of power this month.

Are you in Thailand? What is your reaction to the military coup? Email with your experiences, using the subject Thailand.

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