Coup in Thailand?

Posted: Sep 19, 2006 11:42 AM

Rumors abound, but this is all that's on the wires as of yet.

Fox mentions that the PM has declared a state of emergency, but without confirmation. (Update: Confirmed by AP. I'll try to get the link.)


More than 10 tanks blocked roads around Thailand's government headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday, Reuters witnesses said, and Army television broadcast images of the royal family and songs associated in the past with military coups.

Government officials said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in the middle of a political crisis fomented by a street campaign against him, planned to return from New York on Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled. They gave no reason.

Stratfor on TV coverage:

Army television broadcast images of the royal family and songs associated with past military coups.

Fox notes again that the PM has declared a state of emergency. He's in NY at the UN right now, but apparently local sources in Thailand have seen nothing untoward. Conflicting reports.

Update: Here's some background on the Thai PM, who has won in landslide elections, but faces serious corruption charges.

Thailand's prime minister said that he may step down as leader of the country after upcoming elections, but he will remain at the helm of his party, despite calls for him to give up the post.

"I will be the chairman of the party, but I'm not sure whether I should accept the prime ministership or not," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Monday, adding that he will announce his ambitions "before, probably on the election registration day."

Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party has twice won landslide election victories, in 2001 and 2005 and is expected to win the next vote, bolstered by their widespread support in the country's rural areas. But the prime minister has faced calls to step down amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

Update: The military has seized control in the name of the king, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister have been arrested.

The Thai military launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday night, circling his offices with tanks, seizing control of TV stations and declaring a provisional authority pledging loyalty to the king.

An announcement on Thai television declared that a "Council of Administrative Reform" with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance.

"The armed forces commander and the national police commander have successfully taken over Bangkok and the surrounding area in order to maintain peace and order. There has been no struggle," the announcement said. "We ask for the cooperation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience." 

Pardon for the inconvenience? Pretty low-key announcement for a coup. Has somewhat the same tone as a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign at Wal-Mart.

Allah reports that the constitution has been spiked by the military honchos.

The PM, hampered somewhat by being a world away and by the fact that he's been spending all day hanging out with Kofi Annan, offered this ineffecual solution (emphasis mine):

A coup spokesman said the Thai army had declared martial law nationwide.

All soldiers had been ordered to report to base and unauthorised movements had been banned.

The military action came as Mr Thaksin prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly. He told Thai television from New York that he had sacked Gen. Sonthi and declared a state of emergency.

Mr 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,” Mr Thaksin was quoted by television as saying about the new military commander, who was not named.

The White House line.

Ace also notes unrest in Hungary.