Thai ex-PM Yingluck held in ‘safe place’ as opposition to coup grows

Aide to former prime minister denies that she is being held in a military camp; Senate dissolved

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 May, 2014, 10:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 11:30am

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in a "safe place" yesterday, an aide said, after being held by the army following a coup, as opposition to the takeover grew among her supporters.

The army took power on Thursday after failing to forge a compromise in a power struggle between the populist government of Yingluck, sister of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and the royalist establishment.

Video: Thai military seizes power, leaving uncertain road ahead

Consolidating its grip, the military yesterday dissolved the Senate, the only legislative assembly still functioning in Thailand. It also sacked three top security officials.

The military detained Yingluck on Friday when she and about 150 other people, most of them political associates, were summoned to an army facility in Bangkok. More people were summoned this weekend, including academics.

Briefing the media for the first time since General Prayuth Chan-ocha deposed the government, the army said they would be detained for up to a week.

"This is in a bid for everybody who is involved in the conflict to calm down and have time to think," deputy army spokesman Colonel Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said.

Reports said Yingluck had been taken to an army base in Saraburi province, but an aide denied that. "She's in a safe place ... She has not been detained in any military camp," the aide said.

The army said King Bhumibol Adulyadej had acknowledged the takeover, a significant formality in a country where the monarchy is the most important institution.

The US State Department said it had suspended about US$3.5 million in military aid.

The US military also cancelled training and readiness exercises with Thailand, as well as a visit next month by US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris, the Pentagon said yesterday.

The military also cancelled an invitation extended to the Royal Thai Armed Forces commander general for next month to visit the US Pacific Command, Pentagon press secretary Real Admiral John Kirby.

This is in a bid for everybody who is involved in the conflict to calm down
Weerachon Sukondhapatipak

"It is important the Royal Thai Armed Forces end this coup and restore to the people of Thailand both the principles and the process of democratic rule, including a clear path forward to elections," Kirby said.

For a second day, about 500 anti-coup protesters defied the military's ban on large gatherings, shouting slogans and waving signs outside a Bangkok cinema before moving on to Victory Monument, a major landmark several kilometres away.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse