CRACKDOWN BEGINS ON OPPOSITION, MEDIA
It was one of the fatest, least violent coups in decades. The military coup that tossed out the troubled government of Thailand three days ago, with the support of Thailand's king and seemingly the vast majority of Thais, has shocked the West.
The Australian prime minister, in particular, was outraged, and demanded democracy be restored straight away. The US and the UK expressed disappointment, but as there is no violence in the streets, and the majority of Thais stand unopposed, there is no leverage for now with which the West can pressure the coup leaders.
This is the short version of how the coup unfolded :
The first signs of trouble for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra emerged on Tuesday when he called an early-morning teleconference with the country’s top army general.Despite a clear lack of opposition, or attempts to undermine the authority of the military junta, the crackdown appears to have begun :
The general, Sonthi Boonyaratglin, did not show up.
“Sonthi was absent,” said Rongpol Charoenphan, the cabinet secretary. “He asked his aide to inform everyone at the meeting that he was busy in the south.”
Actually, General Sonthi, the chief of the army, was organizing a coup that he would begin 14 hours later, sending tanks into the streets and — with a televised announcement — rescinding the Constitution and dissolving Parliament.
From MSNBC :
Thailand’s new military rulers said Thursday they have assumed the duties of parliament, which was dissolved when the government was ousted in a coup earlier this week, and they banned meetings by all political parties.The coup has been welcomed by a prominent rebel Thai Muslim leader, now living in exile. He expects autonomy for the troubled South to now follow.
The new regime also said it has detained four top members of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s administration.
The junta’s actions, which it said was to maintain peace and order, have come even though no open opposition has emerged to its Tuesday night ouster of (prime minister) Thaksin.
Other moves (by the junta) include barring the establishment of new parties and placing limitations on public meetings and restrictions on the media.
The ousted prime minister was regarded as a strong ally of the West, particularly the US. He was sewing Thailand into US-favoured free trade deals, all of which, claimed the Australian PM, were now under threat, and likely to fail.
Thailand is now under the control of a military junta mostly populated and led by a Muslim majority.
It is little wonder, then, that the leaders of Australia, the US, the UK and the Philippines are now so worried about what may come next in the rumbling history of Thailand.
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