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After 2 coups in 8 years, fears over Thai future

May 29, 2014 • World News


FILE – In this Sept. 20, 2006 file photo, a Thai gives a flower to a soldier on a tank near Government House in Bangkok, Thailand. The last time Thailand’s army seized power, in 2006, some called it “the smiling coup.” Residents of Bangkok who supported overthrow of an elected government they accused of corruption poured into the streets, handing out flowers to soldiers who had deployed tanks across this metropolis of glass skyscrapers and ornate Buddhist temples. It was bloodless, and for a time, it was calm. Last Thursday, May 22, 2014, Thailand’s army seized power again, overthrowing a popularly elected administration that won a landslide vote three years earlier. But this time feels much different. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — The last time Thailand’s army seized power, in 2006, some called it “the smiling coup.”

Residents of Bangkok who supported the overthrow of an elected government they accused of corruption poured into the streets, handing out flowers to soldiers who had deployed tanks across this metropolis of glass skyscrapers and ornate Buddhist temples.

It was bloodless, and for a time, it was calm.

Last Thursday, Thailand’s army seized power again without firing a shot, overthrowing a popularly elected administration that won a landslide vote three years earlier. The army says it had to act to restore order after seven months of increasingly violent political turbulence. But the aftermath feels much different this time.

Most of the country’s ousted government has been detained or is in hiding. Journalists, scholars and politicians are being ordered to surrender at army bases. Activists have fled. The junta chief has issued ominous warnings not to criticize the takeover. A nighttime curfew has been imposed. And protests, though small, have come almost immediately.

Hanging over it all is the threat of serious resistance. The political movements spawned in the aftermath of the 2006 coup — particularly the “Red Shirts” who support the ousted government — had vowed to take action if there was another.

So far, there has been no bloodshed. But as ousted Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang put it Tuesday, shortly before being taken into custody by soldiers at a news conference in Bangkok, “If anyone thinks that the coup will stop all the conflict and the turmoil or Login to read more

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