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Thailand PM Is Removed By Military Coup

From those lovers of dictatorships at the DNC’s Associated Press:

Tanks stand outside Government House in Bangkok September 19, 2006.

Thai commander takes over after coup

By GRANT PECK, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand – The Thai military launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday night, circling his offices with tanks, seizing control of TV stations and declaring a provisional authority pledging loyalty to the king. The army commander took over the government and declared martial law.

An announcement on Thai television declared that a "Council of Administrative Reform" with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance.

"The armed forces commander and the national police commander have successfully taken over Bangkok and the surrounding area in order to maintain peace and order. There has been no struggle," the announcement said. "We ask for the cooperation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience."

Thaksin, who has faced calls to step down amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power, was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly, and he declared a state of emergency via a government-owned TV station.

At least 14 tanks surrounded Government House, Thaksin’s office. A convoy of four tanks rigged with loudspeakers and sirens rolled through a busy commercial district of Bangkok, warning people to get off the street for their own safety.

An army general, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin had used the military to take over power from the prime minister.

He said the military arrested Deputy Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit and Defense Minister Thammarak Isaragura na Ayuthaya — two Thaksin loyalists — and that Chitchai agreed to resign.

In a vain attempt to stave off the coup, Thaksin in his state-of-emergency declaration from New York had ordered Sondhi to report to Chitchai immediately, effectively dismissing him.

The coup went largely unnoticed in Thailand’s popular tourist districts, where foreigners packed bars and cabarets, oblivious to the activity about two miles away. But word raced among street vendors hawking T-shirts, who packed up their carts quickly and started heading home…

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party twice won landslide election victories, in 2001 and 2005 and had been expected to win the next vote on Oct. 15, bolstered by its widespread support in the country's rural areas

Thaksin, who had been scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday night, switched his speech to Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT.

On Monday, Thaksin had said he may step down as leader of Thailand after the upcoming elections but would remain at the helm of his party, despite calls for him to give up the post…

Thaksin’s critics want to jettison his policies promoting privatization, free trade agreements and CEO-style administration

Thaksin also has been accused of stifling the media and mishandling a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand that flared under his rule.

In Thailand’s mostly Muslim south, separatist insurgents have waged a bloody campaign that has left at least 1,700 dead, mostly civilians, since 2004. Citizens there have complained of rights abuses by soldiers and discrimination by the country’s Buddhist majority

Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Never mind that Thaksin’s government was elected twice in landslide victories with record turnouts. And never mind that he was on his way to winning re-election by a similarly wide margin.

Thaksin is a successful businessman, a conservative, who wanted to move Thailand away from socialism. And worse than that, he opposes the Muslim "insurgency" in Thailand.

So there is no love for him in our one party media or the rest of the world.


Buried in the tenth paragraph of the AP's latest article on the coup:

Thailand's PM ousted in military coup

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 19

… Striking when Thaksin was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly, army commander Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin sent tanks and troops into the drizzly, nighttime streets of Bangkok. The military ringed Thaksin's offices, seized control of television stations and declared a provisional authority loyal to the king.

The coup leaders declared martial law, revoked the constitution and ordered all troops not to leave duty stations without permission from their commanders. The stock exchange was to be closed Wednesday, along with schools, banks and government offices…

Thaksin recently alienated a segment of the military by claiming senior officers had tried to assassinate him in a failed bombing attempt. He also attempted to remove officers loyal to Sondhi from key positions.

Sondhi, who is known to be close to Thailand's revered constitutional monarch, will serve as acting prime minister, army spokesman Col. Akarat Chitroj said. Sondhi, well-regarded within the military, is a Muslim in this Buddhist-dominated nation.

Sondhi, 59, was selected last year to head the army partly because it was felt he could better deal with the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, where 1,700 people have been killed since 2004. Recently, Sondhi urged negotiations with the separatists in contrast to Thaksin's hard-fisted approach. Many analysts have said that with Thaksin in power, peace in the south was unlikely

Say hello to Sharia law, Thailand.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, September 19th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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