When Thailand's military seized power last September, its promise to bring unity and stability to a nation polarised by winner-takes-all politics received a warm welcome in Bangkok. Families lined up to take snapshots in front of the army tanks that had rolled into town to crush any hopes of a constitutional solution to the political stalemate. Royal endorsement for the coup - Thailand's 18th in 76 years - appeared to seal the fate of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies. But the unity on display in the days after the coup has begun to splinter, both within the military elite and among anti-Thaksin forces. Analysts say these divisions could deflect the ruling Council for National Security (CNS) from its promise to hold elections and restore civilian democracy by the end of the year. Opposition politicians who cheered the removal of Mr Thaksin are starting to snipe at the regime's performance. The biggest blow to public confidence came early on New Year's Eve, when a series of co-ordinated bombings rocked the Thai capital, killing three people. Even after police had cleared a downtown plaza and tried to disperse midnight revellers, a second wave of bombings claimed more injuries, including several foreign tourists. Thailand's business community has also felt the sting from a series of economic blunders and U-turns, including a stock exchange meltdown last month triggered by draconian capital controls. Revisions to the law on foreign investment, fuelled by the nationalist backlash against the sale of Mr Thaksin's family-owned telecommunications empire to Singapore, have left some investors wondering if Thailand is still open for business. Authorities allege that forces aligned with the ousted prime minister planted the bombs to destabilise Thailand's interim government, which is investigating alleged corruption in the former administration. They have denied any connection between the blasts and a Muslim-led insurgency in the south that has claimed more than 1,900 lives since January 2004. No arrests of bombing suspects have been made, though, and Bangkok remains on edge. In recent weeks, police have responded to dozens of false bomb alerts and hoaxes in and around the capital. The political fallout from the violence also continues to reverberate. A war of words between influential retired military officers and members of the junta over its leadership sparked rumours of another military coup after tanks were seen moving into Bangkok. General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, army chief and head of the CNS, went on national TV to deny the rumours. He said the troop movements were part of a prescheduled rotation. In recent weeks, the military top brass have closed ranks, toning down their public disagreements and stressing unity. Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman for the CNS, said the 'old powers' had spread the coup rumours and talk of a rift within the regime. 'It's all false. People who lost their privileges will try anything to discredit the government,' he said. The timetable for restoring constitutional rule was unchanged, the colonel insisted. 'Thai people accept this coup. It will lead the country back to democracy.' At the same time, the junta has tacked rightwards by hardening its stance against Mr Thaksin, who is living in exile and barred from returning home. Authorities revoked his diplomatic passport and told local broadcasters to stop reporting his comments and those of his aides. Foreign broadcasters have been censored, most recently when CNN aired an interview on Monday with Mr Thaksin recorded in Singapore. His presence and a meeting with a top Singaporean official drew an angry Thai rebuke. This tougher stance has won support from critics who want the CNS to speed up investigations of Mr Thaksin, a billionaire businessman who won two landslide poll victories in 2001 and 2005. 'Their credibility depends on their taking decisive action to bring the volatile political situation under control - not just to sit on their hands and be manipulated by Thaksin and his followers,' The Nation newspaper said in an editorial. But such a hardline stance risks alienating Thais who accepted the coup as a necessary evil to defuse a political stalemate. Analysts say it could also meet resistance from Thaksin loyalists within the civil service and security forces, as the junta has yet to fully consolidate its hold on power. Even those government officials who are considered neutral may be reluctant to co-operate while the political situation remains so fluid. 'Support for the coup is narrowly based, and it's based on the conflict with Thaksin,' said Panitan Wattanyagorn, a professor of International Relations at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. 'Everyone knows this is a lame-duck government. It's going to be gone in 10 or 12 months. The bureaucracy knows this. Time is running out.' Having seized power alleging widespread corruption and abuse of power, the junta has struggled to build a watertight case against Mr Thaksin and his family. Analysts say this underscores the complexity of probing the overlapping spheres of the former leader's political and business empires, as well as the complicity of parts of the civil service. But the overall impression is that the coup was more about politics than probity. 'Support for the government is slipping. People who want to see decisive action taken against corruption have been disappointed,' said Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the opposition Democrat Party. He said the slow pace of drafting a new constitution to replace the 1997 charter had also dismayed Thais who wanted a quick return to democracy. A private poll taken in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces after the New Year bombs found the government's approval rating had fallen to 48 per cent, down from 60 per cent a month earlier and 90 per cent in October. Critics say that the violence, and the prospect of more strife as the junta tries to consolidate, has undone the idea that the bloodless coup was the answer to Thailand's problems. 'The military is not solving anything. It's just creating a new set of problems,' said Thongchai Winichakul, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. 'No matter how horrible Thaksin was, this is not the way out of the problem.' Thailand is still under martial law. Authorities say they can't relax their grip as Thaksin loyalists may try to stir unrest in rural strongholds, where his populist policies and ebullient style resonated with voters. Civil libertarians have staged small rallies in Bangkok calling for a return to democracy, watched by wary security forces. But these repressive controls, coupled with the regime's blunt efforts to censor state-owned broadcasters, could start to backfire. Bangkok's privately owned print media has started to criticise the censorship and challenge the junta's democratic credentials. Having deposed a popular leader and vowed to unite a polarised country, the junta is struggling to find its political balance.