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THAILAND COUP: Thai king set to endorse coup leader amid growing dissent
Publication Date : 26-05-2014
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej is expected to endorse coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, a move that will lend weight to the military chief's authority as he systematically widens a clampdown on outspoken activists, academics and journalists.
The royal endorsement is expected to be issued today, according to the Bangkok Post. Thailand has witnessed 19 coup attempts since 1932, with the latest launched last Thursday after talks reportedly broke down between General Prayuth and the rival political factions.
The generals have traditionally sought the King's blessings to legitimise their takeovers.
Public dissent against the coup, however, continued to grow yesterday as several hundred people defied a ban on political gatherings by staging raucous protests in downtown Bangkok.
Demonstrators now face harsher punishment after the junta declared yesterday that all persons accused of insulting the monarchy or defying the junta's orders would be tried before a military court.
The National Council for Peace and Order, the official name of the junta ruling Thailand, is also extending its purge of many individuals seen as a threat to the regime, or who are linked to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006.
About 200 individuals, among them former Cabinet members and former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, have been summoned by the junta for meetings and many who turned up have not been heard from since.
A highly placed source said Yingluck, who was detained last Friday, has been released. She is understood to be under a gag order. The military declined to confirm the release.
Up north in Chiang Mai province, a stronghold of the ousted government, the military "invited" administrators of educational institutes to meetings, warning them against "causing trouble".
The coup has drawn swift condemnation from around the world, although Gen Prayuth has insisted that such an action was necessary to put an end to a worsening political conflict.
Meanwhile, the junta also told financial officials that it wanted to get the Thai economy back on track by sorting out its delayed fiscal Budget.
It also plans to return 90 billion baht (US$2.7 billion) in overdue payments to farmers for rice they had pledged in a now defunct state purchase scheme.