Thailand coup live: Army dissolves Senate, takes over law making

Follow live updates of the ongoing political crisis in Thailand

Surabhi Vaya May 24, 2014 19:26:49 IST
Thailand coup live: Army dissolves Senate, takes over law making

6:34 pm: Military disbands Senate, takes over law making

Thailand's military junta has disbanded the country's Senate and placed all law-making responsibility in the hands of the army general who led this week's coup, the army said on Saturday, AFP reported.

"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 announcement on national television.

4:14 pm: Military may hold detainees for up to a week

Thailand's coup leaders said that they would keep former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Cabinet members and anti-government protest leaders detained for up to a week to give them "time to think" and to keep the country calm. They also summoned outspoken academics to report to the junta, Associated Press reported.

Thailand coup live Army dissolves Senate takes over law making

A woman is detained by the police after a confrontation during a protest against military rule in Bangkok earlier today. Reuters

The moves appear aimed at preventing any political leaders or other high-profile figures from rallying opposition to the military, which seized power on Thursday after months of sometimes violent street protests and deadlock between the elected government and protesters supported by Thailand's elite establishment.

For a second day, hundreds of anti-coup protesters defied the military's ban on large gatherings and shouted slogans and waved signs outside a Bangkok cinema.

The demonstrators vowed to march to a nearby army base, but soldiers with riot shields prevented them.

A few hours later, the protesters began walking to Victory Monument, a major city landmark about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) away. Rows of soldiers and police were lined up on a road near Victory Monument to stop the marchers.

Most of Bangkok, however, remained calm on Saturday, and there was little military presence on the streets.

Deputy army spokesman Col. Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said that all the detainees were being well-treated and that the aim of the military was to achieve a political compromise.

"This is in a bid for everybody who is involved in the conflict to calm down and have time to think," Weerachon said. "We don't intend to limit their freedom, but it is to relieve the pressure."

The country's military leaders also summoned an additional 35 people, including more politicians, political activists and, for the first time, outspoken academics, to "maintain peace and order." It was not immediately clear whether they would be detained.

One of those on the list, Kyoto University professor of Southeast Asian studies Pavin Chachavalpongpun, said by telephone from Japan that he would not turn himself in. He said the summons meant the junta felt insecure.

"The military claiming to be a mediator in the Thai conflict, that is all just nonsense," he said. "This is not about paving the way for reform and democratization. We are really going back to the crudest form of authoritarianism."

4:08 pm: Former PM detained by the military

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been detained by the military junta that seized power in a coup, a source in her Puea Thai party said on Saturday.

"It is confirmed that she was detained by the military since she reported to the junta yesterday," said the source, who was present when Yingluck answered a call by the junta to present herself to the army on Friday, AFP reported.

--End of Updates for 23 May--

12:43 pm: Army bans former leaders from leaving country

Thailand's army said on Friday that 155 prominent figures, including ousted government leaders, were banned from leaving the country without permission following a military coup.

They include former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several relatives, AFP reported.

12:25 pm: Military summons former PM, relatives

Thailand's new junta ordered former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and three other relatives of controversial billionaire-turned-politician Thaksin Shinawatra to report to military authorities on Friday, AFP reported.

The summons appeared to broaden the scope of those called in by leaders of a military coup staged Thursday, after an earlier request for ministers in Thailand's now-deposed government to report to the armed forces.

Thailand coup live Army dissolves Senate takes over law making

Former Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul arrives at ArmyClub after being summoned by the army in Bangkok. Reuters

A bulletin read out on national television said Yingluck, Thaksin's younger sister who was dismissed as premier this month in a contentious court ruling, must present herself at 10:00 am (0300 GMT) Friday.

The junta also ordered the presence of her brother-in-law, former premier Somchai Wongsawat, and two other relatives, "in order to maintain peace and smoothly solve national problems."

It gave no hint of what might happen after their appearances.

They were among 23 members of the Puea Thai party -- in power until Thursday's coup -- summoned by the military.

The exiled Thaksin, a former prime minister himself, along with his family and allies have been at the centre of a bitter power struggle lasting nearly a decade, pitting forces sympathetic to him against a Bangkok-based royalist bloc.

Puea Thai or previous Thaksin-aligned parties have won every election since 2001, to the growing alarm of the military-allied royalists.

Despite going into exile two years after he was deposed in a 2006 army coup, Thaksin retains strong support in rural Thailand.

--End of updates for 22 May--

10:30 pm: US rethinking military cooperation after coup

The United States said on Thursday it was reconsidering military cooperation with Thailand after the army seized power.

"We've been reviewing our military-to-military assistance including the CARAT exercise," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said, referring to US-led naval drills in the Pacific.

The Cooperation of Afloat Readiness and Training Exercises, which involves about 700 US Marines and sailors, began Monday and is due to run through next Tuesday.

The US military has long-standing ties to Thailand's armed forces, dating back to the Korean and Vietnam wars, but a previous coup in 2006 led to the temporary suspension of American military aid.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Thailand's military had "no justification" to stage a coup and warned that the move would hurt relations between the allies.

Kerry in a statement urged the restoration of a civilian government, respect for press freedom and "early elections that reflect the will of the people."

10:27 pm: EU demands return to democracy

The European Union on Thursday demanded a rapid return to the democratic process in Thailand after the army seized power.

"We are following developments in Thailand with extreme concern," the EU's foreign policy service said in a statement. "It is of the utmost importance that Thailand returns rapidly to the legitimate democratic process."

"The military must accept and respect the constitutional authority of the civilian power as a basic principle of democratic governance," the EU statement said. "We stress the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible. We call upon all parties to exercise restraint and work together in the interest of the country."

9:17 pm: Indian Embassy in Bangkok warns citizens, recommends safety measures

India today strongly advised its nationals in Thailand to take "abundant precautions" for their safety in view of the coup in the crisis-hit country.

The Indian Embassy in Bangkok warned the citizens that the public transport including to and from the airport could be affected from 8 pm (local time) onwards due to a nationwide curfew from 10 pm to 5 am.

The Embassy, while advising all Indian tourists and residents in Thailand to take "abundant precautions" for their safety, urged them to avoid moving around during that period and also avoid areas where demonstrations, political gatherings and marches were likely to take place.

"Those who have flights at night are advised to reach the airport well before curfew time," the embassy said in a notice, adding that they could also ask their hotel to coordinate transport with the military.

7:51 pm: French President Francois Hollande condemns coup

French President Francois Hollande Thursday condemned the army coup in Thailand and called for an immediate return to the rule of law.

His reaction came after Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha made the coup announcement in a televised address to the nation, after declaring martial law earlier this week.

"The president condemns the seizure of power by the army in Thailand," a statement by Hollande's office said.

Hollande called for "an immediate return to the constitutional order and for a vote to be organised" as well as the need "for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Thai people to be respected."

6:57 pm: Military censors the press; daily TV, radio programming suspended

Thailand's military on Thursday ordered all television and radio stations to suspend their usual programmes and show only the army's broadcasts in the wake of a coup, AFP reported.

The step was taken to ensure the release of "accurate news to the people," an army spokesman said in a televised announcement.

All television channels in the Southeast Asian kingdom including foreign broadcasters such as CNN, BBC, and CNBC ran a constant military feed featuring a succession of brief announcements related to the government takeover.

Between the bulletins, a static screen was shown depicting the emblems of the various branches of Thailand's armed forces, as patriotic Thai songs played.

6:16 pm: Army tells PM, Ministers to report to a military compound

Thailand's army told acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and his ministers to report to a military compound in the north of Bangkok on Thursday.

Deputy Army Spokesman Winthai Suvaree issued the order in a televised statement hours after the army staged a coup to oust the government.

6:12 pm: Military junta suspends Constitution

Thailand's new military junta has announced that it has suspended the country's constitution, Associated Press reported.

A military statement broadcast on national television Thursday confirmed the nation's caretaker government is no longer in power but said the Senate will remain in place.

The news came two hours after army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the military was taking control of the country after six months of political protests and turmoil.

After the coup, anti-government protesters who have struggled for six months to oust the government dispersed for the first time.

4:16 pm: Army chief declares coup, political crisis deepens

Thailand's army chief announced a military takeover of the government Thursday, saying the coup was necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced in a statement broadcast on national television that the commission which imposed martial law on Tuesday would now take control of the country's administration, Associated Press reported.

"It is necessary for the Peace and Order Maintaining Command — which includes army, navy, armed forces and police — to take control of governing the country," Prayuth said.

Thailand coup live Army dissolves Senate takes over law making

Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha, center, is flanked by from left, National Police Chief Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew, Navy Chief Adm. Narong Pipatthanasant and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Prachin Janthong. AP

The development followed two days of army-mediated meetings between the country's rival political leaders that failed to break the impasse. The meetings were held at an army facility in Bangkok.

Shortly before the announcement was made, armed soldiers in military vehicles surrounded the building, apparently to block those inside from leaving.

Thailand has been gripped by bouts of political instability for more than seven years.

The latest round of unrest started in November, when demonstrators took to the streets to try to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down. They accused her of being a proxy for her popular billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence on a corruption conviction.

The coup announced Thursday was the 12th since the country's absolute monarchy ended in 1932.

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