Thai armed forces’ seizure of control is temporary and power will be “returned to the people” soon, coup spokesman Lieutenant-General Prapart Sakuntanak says on television. He adds that the coup is necessary because PM Thaksin’s government has divided the country and corruption is rampant.
Tanks head for central Bangkok; PM Thaksin declares state of emergency
Posted: 19 September 2006 2319 hrs
Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra
BANGKOK : Thailand’s army chief Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has been sacked and a state of emergency declared in Bangkok amid rumours of a coup against the government.
Local television reported that a new army chief has already been appointed.
“He is in charge of solving the problems while the country faces an urgent situation,” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was quoted by television as saying about the new military commander.
A UN official said in New York that Mr Thaksin had brought forward his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday amid a revolt by his military in Bangkok.
Mr Thaksin had been scheduled to address the annual General Assembly on Wednesday, but the order of speeches was altered and he will instead speak on Tuesday evening, the UN official added.
Government officials said Mr Thaksin planned to return from New York on Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled.
Earlier, witnesses said more than 10 tanks and heavily armed troops blocked roads around Government House in Bangkok.
They added that forces loyal to the sacked Thai military commander have seized Government House.
Meanwhile, army television broadcast images of the royal family and songs associated in the past with military coups.
Thai military and police claiming to have seized control of the capital Bangkok appear to have taken over all six of the kingdom’s public television stations, as well as radio stations, a senior military official said.
The announcement said the troops belonged to the “Council of Political Reform”.
But it was unclear if they sided with Mr Thaksin or sacked military commander General Sonthi.
Bangkok has been gripped by rumours of an imminent military coup amid ongoing political uncertainty linked to demands that Mr Thaksin step down.
Unconfirmed reports said that the military was going to make an announcement during the night, but it is unknown what that announcement might be.
In New York, the White House said it was aware of breaking news reports about the political situation in Thailand and was seeking additional information.
“We’ve seen the reports, and we are seeking additional information,” national security spokesman Frederick Jones told reporters as US President George W. Bush prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly. – AFP/desource: channelnewsasia
TMD! just when i’m gonna depart on friday! hope everything clears up soon else.. everything is forfeited! somemore, i didnt book via agency, everything online… ARGH. and apparently thaksin will only reach bkk on thursday!
Troops seize centre of Thai capital in apparent coup
BANGKOK : Heavily-armed troops backed by tanks took control of the Thai premier’s office in Bangkok on Tuesday while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was out of the kingdom, witnesses said.
Witnesses outside Government House in central Bangkok said forces loyal to sacked military commander Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin had taken control of the building in what appeared to be a coup.
An announcement flashed on all public television channels said police and military forces loyal to King Bhumibol Adulyadej had taken control of Bangkok “to maintain law and order”. It was accompanied by patriotic music.
The announcement said the troops belonged to the “Council of Political Reform”. It apologised to Thai citizens for the unrest and asked for them to cooperate.
Coup spokesman Lieutenant-General Prapart Sakuntanak said on television that the armed forces’ seizure of control was temporary and power would be “returned to the people” soon.
He said the coup was necessary because Thaksin’s government had divided the country and corruption was rampant.
The military action came as Thaksin prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly. He told Thai television from New York that he had sacked Sonthi and declared a state of emergency.
Thaksin said he had already appointed a new army chief to stabilise the kingdom, which has been gripped by months of political uncertainty and rumours of an impending coup.
“He is in charge of solving the problems while the country faces an urgent situation,” Thaksin was quoted by television as saying about the new military commander, who was not named.
UN officials said Thaksin had brought forward his address to the UN General Assembly.
A Thai government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Thaksin was considering cutting short his stay in New York to return to face the crisis.
“He is planning to leave New York as soon as possible,” the Thai source told AFP in New York.
Meanwhile, army commanders loyal to Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra are holding crisis talks late on Tuesday outside Bangkok, military officials said.
“The supreme commander is chairing a meeting right now. He will spent more time making up his mind on the next move,” said Major General Palangkoon Khlaharn, spokesman for Defence Ministry Supreme Commander General Ruengroj Mahasaranond.
Thailand has limped along without an elected government since Thaksin dissolved parliament in February as pressure mounted on him to quit over corruption allegations.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in response at the time, angered in part over the Thaksin family’s tax-free sale of its US$1.9 billion stake in Shin Corp, the telecoms giant Thaksin founded before entering politics.
In a bid to quell the mass rallies, Thaksin called a snap vote in April, three years ahead of schedule.
An opposition boycott guaranteed Thaksin a victory but also sunk the credibility of the polls, which were later invalidated following a rare intervention by Thailand’s king, who asked top judges to break the deadlock.
Late last month police said they had found a powerful bomb in the trunk of a car near Thaksin’s house, saying it was an attempt to assassinate the prime minister.
Thaksin said a group of up to four military officers had schemed to kill him.
Thaksin, 57, was already under increased security following scuffles between his supporters and groups opposing his rule. – AFP/de