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Former Thai prime minister summoned for talks

Yingluck Shinawatra among 100 ex-government figures asked to report to military authorities following army takeover.

Last updated: 23 May 2014 12:00
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Thailand's former authority figures have reported to the new military junta after it summoned the entire deposed government and members of the politically influential Shinawatra family, following a coup.

Yingluck Shinawatra, the former prime minister, and Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, her temporary replacement, were among the 39 prominent figures who reported to the designated military compound in Bangkok on Friday by the 0300 GMT deadline.

The army's intentions for summoning the people were not clear.

THAI CRISIS

A proposed political amnesty bill sparked mass protests late 2013. Critics feared it would allow ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted of corruption, to return.

His sister Yingluck, then PM, called early elections. The Constitutional Court declared results invalid due to opposition disruption.

On May 7, the Constitutional Court ruled that Yingluck had to step down for abuse of power. Parts of her government stayed on in a caretaker capacity.

Thailand's army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, seized control of the government on Thursday, 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 from 10pm until 5am, suspended the constitution and detained some politicians. Rival protest camps were ordered to disperse.

The capital, Bangkok, was calm and activity appeared to be relatively normal early on Friday, although the military has ordered all schools and universities to stay closed.

"There's a little bit more military presence but we're not looking at a situation with tanks rolling onto the streets," Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Bangkok, said.

Regular television schedules were suspended with all stations running the same news programme, featuring content from Channel 5, the army's own channel.

It showed pictures of the areas, now cleared, that had been taken over in and around Bangkok by various political groups since anti-government protests flared up last November.

"There is no justification for this military coup," John Kerry, US secretary of state, said in a statement on Thursday.

"This act will have negative implications for the US-Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military. We are reviewing our military and other assistance and engagements, consistent with US law."

Global concern

Kerry said he was concerned by reports that senior Thai political leaders had been detained and called for their release.

He urged the "immediate" restoration of civilian government and the lifting of curbs on the media.

European and Asian nations expressed concern over the coup, with Germany, France and Britain issuing statements of condemnation, Japan's foreign minister calling it "regrettable" and Singapore urging all sides to avoid violence.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, said he was "seriously concerned" and appealed "for a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule and an all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity".

Under US law, with limited exceptions, no US foreign aid may flow to "any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree".

The Pentagon said it was reviewing its military cooperation, including an ongoing joint exercise in Thailand involving about 700 US soldiers of the Marine Corps and sailors.

Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said that as much as about $10m in annual bilateral aid could be cut.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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