UK & World News

  • 23 May 2014, 11:44

Thailand Coup: Politicians Banned From Leaving

Thailand's army has banned 155 people, including politicians and activists, from leaving the country a day after seizing power in a bloodless coup.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military takeover was necessary for the country to "return to normal quickly" following months of deadly protests.

He immediately imposed a 10pm to 5am curfew, suspended the constitution and ordered all cabinet ministers to report to the military.

Political leaders, including Yingluck Shinawatra who was forced from office as caretaker prime minister earlier this year, were told not to leave Thailand "in order to maintain peace and resolve the conflict".

Reuters news agency said she was seen arriving at an army facility on Friday morning, as Thailand woke up to its first day under military leadership.

The coup - the country's 19th since the fall of absolute monarchy in 1932 - followed two days of meetings between rival political leaders that failed to break the deadlock.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "no justification" for the military takeover. He said it would have "negative implications" for US relations, and demanded early elections.

The Pentagon said it was reviewing military cooperation with Thailand.

General Prayuth said his forces would "provide protection" for foreigners in Thailand, which is visited by around one million Britons a year.

British ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent said: "British citizens should exercise extreme caution and follow travel advice and media updates."

Malaysia warned its nationals to defer non-essential travel to Thailand.

Japan, Thailand's biggest investor, stopped short of a travel warning, but called for a "prompt restoration of a democratic political system", as Toyota and Honda stopped night shifts at their Thai plants because of the curfew.

Thailand has been locked in political crisis since a 2006 military coup that deposed Ms Yingluck's elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire tycoon who clashed with the royalist establishment.

His Red Shirt supporters had warned that any military overthrow of the government could trigger civil war and all eyes are now on how his movement will respond.

On Thursday, Thai soldiers reportedly fired into the air to disperse thousands of Red Shirts, who gathered in western Bangkok after the coup was announced.

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