Thai military imposes ban on political parties

Thursday 21 September 2006 11.17
1 of 2
Sonthi Boonyaratglin - Tough restrictions
Sonthi Boonyaratglin - Tough restrictions
Thailand - US urges return to democracy
Thailand - US urges return to democracy

Thailand's ruling generals have announced tough new restrictions on political parties and the media, including a ban on expressions of public opinion.

Two days after a bloodless coup ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, political parties have been banned from holding meetings and conducting any other activities. 

The formation of new political parties has also been outlawed and media figures have been summoned to meet the military to learn of regulations governing print and broadcast media.

Although General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has received the support of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the coup leader has warned that it could be one year before democracy is restored.

General Sonthi and his self-styled Council of Political Reform have annulled the constitution, imposed martial law, banned public gatherings and closed much of the country's land border after taking power.

However the office of the auditor general will remain in operation, a decision that clears the way for corruption investigations against the ousted prime minister.

There have been no reports of violence or unrest since the coup, even in the north of the country where the prime minister retains a strong following.

US condemns coup

The US has condemned the coup and called for the restoration of democracy as quickly as possible.

The White House expressed its disappointment at the development and urged the Thai military leadership to keep its promise to hold elections.

However there was no US demand for the deposed Prime Minister to be returned to power.

Mr Shinawatra had been under pressure since it emerged that he had paid no tax on $2 billion he received from the sale of telecom stocks.

The revelation set off a series of protests in Thailand. Fresh elections were held, but the vote was later invalidated by the courts.