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World News

TIMELINE: 15 months of ups and downs in post-coup Thailand

(Reuters) - Thais voted in a general election on Sunday that is meant to put the country back on the road to democracy after last year’s military coup, the 18th in 75 years.

Here are some of the political and economic milestones since the bloodless September 2006 putsch:

* September 9, 2006: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra leaves Thailand on a personal and official tour starting in Finland and including the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

* September 19: The military stages a coup as Thaksin prepares to address the United Nations. Thaksin, winner of two landslide elections and in power for five years, goes into exile in London.

* October 1: Former army commander-in-chief Surayud Chulanont is sworn in as interim prime minister. Thaksin steps down as Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party leader two days later.

* December 19: Stock exchange plunges 14.8 percent, the biggest one-day drop in its history, after the Bank of Thailand announces stringent capital controls to stem a rise in the baht.

* December 31: Bombs in Bangkok kill three people and wound more than 30 as crowds celebrate New Year’s Eve. There have been no arrests.

* January 9, 2007: Foreign investors receive another shock as controversial changes to the Foreign Business Act are proposed.

* February 21: Economic adviser Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister and architect of Thaksin’s pro-business policies, resigns six days after his appointment outrages opponents of the old Thaksin government.

* February 28: Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula quits, blaming cabinet infighting. His successor, Chalongphob Sussangkarn, is appointed on March 7.

* March 26: Prosecutors charge Thaksin’s wife, Potjaman, her brother and secretary with tax evasion, the first charges to emerge from an investigation into alleged corruption.

* March 29: Surayud announces that a general election will be held in December.

* May 30: The Constitutional Tribunal dissolves Thai Rak Thai for breaking election laws and bans Thaksin and 110 other party leaders from politics for five years.

* Aug 20: Voters endorse new military-drafted constitution, the country’s 18th in 75 years of on-off democracy. Government declares victory and promises an election before year’s end.

* Oct 1: Coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin steps down as army chief, to become a deputy prime minister in charge of internal security.

* Dec 5: Revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej calls for national unity as Thailand’s 64 million people celebrate his 80th birthday.

* Dec 23: Thais vote in general election.

Writing by Gill Murdoch and David Cutler; editing by Darren Schuettler and Sonya Hepinstall

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