Thai junta leader tells nation to move on from coup

BANGKOK Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:45am EDT

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha pauses as he addresses reporters at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok in this May 26, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/Files

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha pauses as he addresses reporters at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok in this May 26, 2014 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj/Files

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha, in an address to the nation a day after he was elected prime minister by a legislature he hand-picked, asked Thais not to dwell on the dramatic coup he led in May.

"There is no point saying whether a coup is good or whether it is bad," Prayuth said in his Friday night speech.

"I have never said that all my actions are correct or incorrect. I take responsibility for my actions. Others must take responsibility for theirs," he added without elaborating.

In a rambling, 90-minute speech Prayuth, who is also Thailand's army chief, touched on a number of topics ranging from Thailand's illegal ivory trade to practices of human trafficking in the fishing industry.

Prayuth did not mention his appointment as prime minister.

His election, which still needs to be endorsed by Thailand's king, adds a veneer of legitimacy to a military council, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), that has ruled unchallenged since it took control.

It comes at a time when Thailand's economy, which narrowly avoided a technical recession in the second quarter this year, is struggling to get back on its feet after months of sometimes violent street demonstrations.

The military staged a coup on May 22 after months of turbulence pitting protesters, including the urban elite and southern Thais, against supporters of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Prayuth has outlined a year-long roadmap including the appointment of a council to oversee national reforms, an interim government and elections in late 2015.

The military detained hundreds of politicians, activists and academics, holding many at undisclosed locations in the weeks after it took control. A junta spokesman told Reuters on Friday that all detainees had been released.

But allegations of abuse in military custody, plus signs of defiance on Thai campuses, undermine Prayuth's claim that the junta is - to borrow the title of his Friday-night TV address - "returning happiness to the people".

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Comments (2)
Sombat wrote:
The only legitimate interim Prime Minister is Yingluk Shinawatra, and pending elections, he is not our Prime Minister, she is.

Also we’re not fooled, he made it clear all along he was part of Sutheps ‘people’s’ coup, and Suthep confirmed this in a fund raising speech that the two men had planned it together.

He is not some peacekeeper reluctantly stepping into power to rescue democracy.

Arrest Somchai Srisuthiyakorn for failing to hold elections within 60 days of the Kings decree as the law requires, hold elections and go back to barracks.

Enough of you Prayuth.

Aug 22, 2014 12:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
M_Expat wrote:
Well said Sombat. Simply put and accurate. Tremendous effort has been made in Thailand by the media, the special agencies, the judiciary, Suthep’s protest movement and the military to maintain this charade to the world and the Thai people that the coup makers and the military’s General were forced to save the country from violence when in fact they could of guaranteed access to the voting booths and allow the elected government to reform and carry on. Instead all was orchestrated by the interests out of government power to bring down the government and do everything to undermine the Prime Minister, short of burning Yingluk Shinawatra at the stake. Breathtaking in it’s audacity and determination.

Aug 22, 2014 4:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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