Thai coup leader cements grip

2014-05-24 18:28
File: AFP)

File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Bangkok - Thailand's military junta said on Saturday it had disbanded the Senate and placed all law-making authority in the army chief's hands, dramatically tightening its grip after a coup that has sparked Bangkok protests and drawn international condemnation.

The regime also confirmed it had detained former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and scores of other ousted government leaders and would hold them for up to a week as it corralled potential opponents to its takeover.

"The Senate is dismissed. Responsibility for any laws needing the approval of the parliament or Senate will instead be assumed by the leader of the [junta]," said an army bulletin on national television.

Thailand's fragile democracy has been repeatedly stunted by 19 actual or attempted coups since 1932.

Analysts called Saturday's developments an ominous sign that the junta led by the army chief, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, could be digging in for a long-term, pervasive takeover, as it had earlier said the Senate would be retained.

Sporadic protests flared in Bangkok for a second straight day, with hundreds of demonstrators defying a ban on political gatherings to denounce the coup, echoing calls from Washington, the EU and elsewhere around the world for the restoration of civilian rule.

Prayut seized control Thursday after anti-government forces had waged a several-month campaign, marked by deadly Bangkok street protests, to oust Thailand's civilian leaders.

Civil liberties have been curbed, media restrictions imposed, most of the constitution abrogated, and rival protesters from both sides of the political divide cleared from the capital.

King 'acknowledges' coup

Political analysts view the coup as part of a long-running effort by a Bangkok-based power elite - aligned with the monarchy and military - to eliminate the political dominance of Yingluck's elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon, shook up Thai politics by winning devotion among millions of rural poor with populist measures, catapulting him to prime minister in 2001 polls.

He was deposed in 2006 in a military coup, fleeing abroad two years later to avoid a corruption conviction, but his family and allies have continued his success at the ballot box.

The military said Saturday that Prayut had sent a letter regarding his takeover to the country's revered king, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The monarch, 86, commands great respect among his subjects, and his blessing is traditionally sought to legitimise Thailand's recurring military takeovers.

The army said the king had "acknowledged" Prayut's letter, but stopped short of describing the response as an endorsement.

The palace has yet to issue a statement on the crisis.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai politics researcher at Japan's Kyoto University, said the general's assumption of law-making authority indicates a looming "full-scale authoritarianism or military despotism."

"By taking full control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and now the Senate, this shows the military is setting itself up as the sovereign," he said.

Briefing the media for the first time since the coup, the military said Yingluck and other prominent figures had been taken in under a martial law provision allowing detentions of up to seven days without charge.

Yingluck detained

It was not known whether any charges were being prepared, but military officials said the detainees were in no danger.

"[Yingluck] is under detention, and she is fine," Lieutenant General Thirachai Nakwanich, head of the military command for central Thailand including Bangkok, told AFP.

A military official told AFP she was being held at an unspecified army barracks in Bangkok.

A night-time curfew imposed by the junta has tamed the capital's often rowdy tourist districts, further chilling a vital visitor industry already cooled by the long-term strife.

Washington, which has led criticism of the coup, took its first concrete steps, suspending $3.5m in military assistance to its ally - about one-third of its Thai aid. Further cuts were being considered.

The constitution was replaced after 2006 with one intended to curb Thaksin's electoral influence.

"This time, the constitutional changes will be more thorough," Thai politics analyst Paul Chambers said.

He said measures could include "electoral gerrymandering, even more power granted to the judiciary, and finally - and most ominously - more power granted to the army".

Anti-Thaksin forces - alleging corruption in Yingluck's administration - have staged months of deadly Bangkok protests that led to at least 28 deaths and triggered counter-demonstrations by the pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" movement.

Tensions spiralled in early May when a court ruling controversially stripped Yingluck of office, setting the stage for the coup.

The "Red Shirts" had earlier warned a coup could trigger civil war but are yet to mount a clear response.

However, for the second straight day, demonstrators gathered in at least two locations in central Bangkok to rail against the junta.

"I have the right to vote and I want to make it clear that they cannot just steal it from me with a coup," said a tour guide who identified himself only as Piti. The protesters in Bangkok said they were not Red Shirts.

No serious confrontations have yet been reported, but AFP reporters witnessed several people being taken into custody in various locations.
Read more on:    thailand
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The virtual world can be very tempting to escape into but focus on also being present and keeping your feet anchored in reality....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.