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COUP: Army Takes Power in Thailand
May 24, 2014

Thailand's army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, seized control of the government two days after he declared martial law, saying the military had to restore order and push through reforms after six months of turmoil. The military declared a curfew and suspended the constitution and told outgoing cabinet ministers to report to an army base in the north of the capital, Bangkok, by the end of the day. Rival protest camps were ordered to disperse.

The military takeover in Thailand drew swift international condemnation, with the United States saying it was reviewing its military aid and other dealings with its closest ally in Southeast Asia. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, "There is no justification for this military coup. While we value our long friendship with the Thai people, this act will have negative implications for the U.S.-Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military. We are reviewing our military and other assistance and engagements, consistent with U.S. law."

The U.S. said he was concerned by reports senior political leaders of Thailand's major parties had been detained and he called for their release. He urged the immediate restoration of civilian government and the lifting of curbs on the media. The Pentagon said it was reviewing its military cooperation, including an ongoing drill in Thailand involving some 700 U.S. Marines and sailors.

After a 2006 coup in Thailand, the United States suspended about $24 million in assistance to the country under a U.S. law that curbs aid after an elected leader is deposed by a military takeover. The aid included funds to promote military professionalism as well as for peacekeeping and arms purchases.

The European Union said it was following developments in Thailand with extreme concern. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, "The military must accept and respect the constitutional authority of the civilian power as a basic principle of democratic governance. It is of the utmost importance that Thailand returns rapidly to the legitimate democratic process. In this respect, we stress the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible.

French President Francois Hollande and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the takeover. Hollande called for an immediate return to constitutional order and the organization of an electoral process. Holding rapid new elections is key. Constitutional rights must be upheld. These include press freedom.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida termed the takeover regrettable and called for the swift restoration of a democratic political system. Singapore, Thailand's partner in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also expressed grave concern. It said, “We hope that all parties involved will exercise restraint and work towards a positive outcome, and avoid violence and bloodshed. Thailand is an important regional country and a key member of ASEAN. Prolonged uncertainties will set back Thailand and the region as a whole.”


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