Thai PM Thaksin ousted by coup

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Location of Thailand

Thailand's army general ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a military coup, declaring martial law and revoking the constitution. Army spokesperson Col. Akara Chitroj said army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin would be acting prime minister. An announcement from the military earlier declared a provisional authority loyal to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Earlier a number of tanks had surrounded the government headquarters in the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. Hundreds of troops had deployed at government installations and major traffic intersections. Swedish television has shown footage of troops with military vehicles setting up checkpoints on roads, as well as soldiers on guard (follow the video links within the article). The footage shows troops wearing yellow ribbons tied to their uniforms, the color of the King.

The Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has declared a state of emergency from New York, where he is currently with the UN. "The prime minister with the approval of the Cabinet declares serious emergency law in Bangkok from now on," Thaksin said on a government-owned TV channel. He has also sacked the current Thai army commander.

There was a scare last week when several army tanks were seen in the streets of Bangkok, but army commanders said they were simply returning from exercises.

The last coup was 15 years ago, back in February 1991; there have been 23 coups (successful or attempted) in the last 74 years in the country.

Thailand has been in political turmoil since the results of April's general elections were annulled, leaving the country without a working legislature. Thaksin had won elections in 2001 and 2005, and was widely expected to win planned elections in November.

According to Sky News, 50 soldiers have been said to be inside Bangkok's Government House.

All international news stations were taken off the network of cable operator UBC. All local stations are now airing a military speech loop stating everything will be over shortly.

The army issued this statement shown on national TV:

"Whereas the political reform commission under the democratic constitutional monarchy, comprising the commanders in chief of the armed forces and the head of the national police, have secured the situation in Bangkok and nearby suburbs without any resistance.

"In the interest of maintaining law and order, a request is therefore made for public cooperation for which our apologies for any inconvenience."

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