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Thai coup leader backed by king, warns citizens

By Agencies | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-27 07:13

Bolstered by a royal endorsement on Monday to run the country after last week's coup, Thailand's military leader warned citizens not to cause trouble, not to criticize, not to protest - or else face a return to street violence.

Dressed in a crisp white uniform, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he had seized power to restore order after seven months of violent confrontations and political turmoil between the now-ousted government and demonstrators who had called repeatedly for the army to intervene.

"I'm not here to argue with anyone. I want to bring everything out in the open and fix it," Prayuth said at his first news conference since taking power on Thursday.

"Everyone must help me," he said, before adding: "Do not criticize, do not create new problems. It's no use."

The warning came as an aide to former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that Yingluck had been released on Monday from military custody.

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Yingluck had returned to her home.

In a gruff, 20-minute appearance, Prayuth warned the media and social media users to avoid doing anything that could fan the conflict. He also called on anti-coup protesters who have staged small demonstrations in Bangkok and several other cities for several days to stop.

Earlier on Monday, King Bhumibol Adulyadej officially endorsed Prayuth to run the country in a royal command that called for "reconciliation among the people".

Bhumibol, who is 86 and in fragile health, did not attend the ceremony at the army headquarters in Bangkok. But the monarch's statement removed any speculation that the palace, which had been silent so far, might withhold its support for the junta.

Prayuth justified the takeover, saying, "When the conflict intensified and there was the threat of violence, we had to act.

"We are not doing this for the soldiers. I'm doing this to protect honor and dignity of all Thais. We cannot step back anymore. We have to stop arguing," he said.

"The most important thing right now is to keep peace and order in the country."

Since sporadic violence began in November as anti-government protests gathered steam, at least 28 people have been killed and more than 800 injured in grenade attacks, gunfights and drive-by shootings.


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