Thailand coup: Thai junta to receive royal approval as protests continue

US Secretary of State and protesters on the streets of Bangkok call for the immediate restoration of democracy

Bangkok

The Thai general who launched the coup and seized power is to due to receive official approval from the country’s king as the junta seeks to cement its position amid mounting protests and criticism.

Reports said Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha would receive a royal command, formally appointing him head of the so-called National Council for Peace and Order, the name the junta has given itself. The oddly precise time of 10.49am has been fixed for the ceremony, raising speculation that this is considered an auspicious moment on the clock.

The approval from Thailand’s ailing, 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej would mark the final outstanding box to be ticked by Gen. Prayuth, who has forced out the government, detained politicians and academics and dissolved the upper house of the parliament. He has also transferred senior police and investigative personnel as the junta’s grip has tightened. Several journalists are being detained, among them Pravit Rojanaphruk, a leading columnist with The Nation newspaper.

The announcement from the junta came as small groups of anti-coup protesters continued to demonstrate in Bangkok, carrying placards and shouting at troops blocking their way to “go home”. The protests have so far been modest in size, but demonstrators have been using social media to organise locations and routes.

 

At Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection, a 65-year-old woman called Pranwee said was determined that the soldiers back down and restore democracy.

A supporter of the ousted government, headed by the Phua Thai party of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, she had been among protesters who had seized control of the busy intersection four years ago to demonstrate against the previous administration. More than 90 people were killed. “In my life, I cannot count the number of times there has been a coup,” she said.

Read more: Does Thailand’s democracy have a future?

At one point, the army used loud-speakers and played military songs in an apparent attempt to move the protesters. One of the songs contained the words “we are all Thai people together”. When the song was played, the protesters hissed.

Later, the protesters moved to the city’s Democracy Monument where the demonstrations continued. It appeared that while perhaps 1,000 or so demonstrators were carrying signs and chanting, many of the onlookers may also have supported the protest too.

The protesters were breaking orders from the junta that no more than five people gathered together without permission. Yet, while there were some scuffles with the soldiers and while the mood was tense, no-one appeared to have been seriously hurt in Sunday’s protests.

“This is the coup. How can they shut off our ears, our mouths, our breathing,” said Kitty Limb, a retired government employee who had travelled from the town of Hua Hin, two hours away, for the protest. “I don’t know how to get back democracy. But if everybody comes and fights for democracy we will shame the junta. I have no weapons.”

The international criticism of the junta has been swift. The US, an important partner of the Thai military, announced it was suspending military aid and pulling out of an exercise. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for the prompt restoration of civilian rule and the release of the more than 100 people who have been detained, among them former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, the brother of Mr Thaksin. The US has also called for “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

A spokesman for the junta claimed that democracy had  brought losses for Thailand. “For international issues, another difference is that democracy in Thailand has resulted in losses, which is definitely different from other countries and which is another detail we will clarify,” said army spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree, according to the Associated Press.

Thailand has been reeling from political turmoil since Mr Thaksin was ousted in a previous coup in 2006. Since then, several governments allied with him have been elected but have been ousted by a controversial court set up after he was pushed out. His sister, Ms Yingluck, was elected in 2011 but forced out by the same court two weeks ago.

The political divisions tearing at the fabric of Thailand are complex, and have a number of factors. Many of the people who support Mr Thaksin say policies helped raise their standard of living. That has coincided with growing awareness of both their political rights and their political power.

By contrast, many of those who led protests against the government over the last six months and which were used by the military as an excuse for their actions, want to reduce the use of elections and have appointed leaders instead. Many of these protesters are business people from Bangkok and the establishment that surrounds the monarchy.

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game