Thai security deployment stifles coup protests

Sunday 01 June 2014 16.05
Thai soldiers prevent an anti-coup protest rally at a shopping district in Bangkok
Thai soldiers prevent an anti-coup protest rally at a shopping district in Bangkok

Thailand's military government has sent thousands of troops and police into central Bangkok and effectively stifled protests against its seizure of power on 22 May.

Protests have been limited to small groups of demonstrators in and around shopping malls.

The military took over after the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had been weakened by months of protests.

The political turmoil pits the Bangkok-based royalist establishment dominated by the military, old-money families and the bureaucracy, against supporters of former telecommunications mogul Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin, who was ousted as premier in a 2006 coup, is the brother of Mr Yingluck and was considered the real power behind her government.

He has chosen to live in exile since fleeing a 2008 conviction for abuse of power.             

Since the latest coup, the military has banned political gatherings of five or more people and protests that have taken place in Bangkok have been small and brief.

Deputy police chief, Somyot Poompanmoung, had said that 5,700 police and soldiers would be sent into central Bangkok and rapid deployment units were ready to stop protests that might spring up elsewhere.

Some top-end malls in the Ratchaprasong area chose to close or have reduced opening hours and the operator of the Sky train overhead rail network shut several stations in the central area.

"It's a business centre and we need to protectively avoid any damage if authorities need to break up a gathering," Mr Somyot said.

He adding that mall owners could also find themselves in trouble with the authorities if protests took place on their premises.

Keywords: protests, thailand