Thai army all smiles after coup

Thai soldiers are being told to smile to help the image of the military leadership which forced the prime minister from power four days ago.

    A tourist holds a copy of The Nation newspaper

    The troops have become part of Bangkok's tourist trail and have been posing with holidaymakers and locals, sometimes with their hands in the air in mock surrender.

    Soldiers have been seen demonstrating weapons to the crowds and schoolchildren have gathered to peer into their tanks on their way to school, according to news reports.

    The Bangkok Post said General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the coup leader, and an army radio programme have both reminded the troops to be friendly and courteous.

    "People have shown overwhelming support for the soldiers," army radio said on Saturday. "The soldiers should promote a positive image and continue smiling, and be polite."

    Food and flowers

    Residents have handed food and flowers to the soldiers, saying they welcomed the army's intervention as the only way out of nearly a year of political strife.

    Soldiers in Bangkok have been
    given food and flowers

    Thailand's image overseas has been damaged by the coup, the country's 18th since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

    But the absence of any violence has led some tourists to book trips to Thailand despite their governments' travel warnings.

    The military has curbed the media, restricted public gatherings and imposed martial law since deposing Thaksin Shinawatra but has pledged to hand power to a civilian interim prime minister within two weeks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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