The military took power on May 22 in a bloodless coup following
six months of street demonstrations that contributed to the ousting
of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. A court had already ordered
her to step down after finding her guilty of abuse of power on May
Permanent secretary for defence Surasak Kanchanarat said political
party reform, decentralisation of power and "investigations and
penalties for those groups that commit electoral fraud" were top on
the military's agenda.
"We will talk about obstacles to an election and corruption,"
Surasak told reporters ahead of a meeting later on Monday with the
The junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and
Order, has scrapped the constitution and its leader, General Prayuth
Chan-ocha, said on Friday that a new, temporary charter would be
ready in July.
The army chief said this would allow an interim cabinet to be
installed by September and a reform council would then start work on
a longer-term constitution.
He also said in his weekly televised speech that a general election
could be held around October 2015, the firmest date he has given
The United States and European Union downgraded diplomatic ties with
Thailand after the coup. Washington has called for a quick return to
civilian government and a move toward "free and fair elections".
The junta's plans for sweeping electoral reforms echo demands made
by the anti-government demonstrators who hounded Yingluck. They
wanted reforms before a new election and disrupted a Feb. 2 vote
that was later annulled by a court.
Yingluck's government and the Election Commission, which was accused
of bias by Yingluck's supporters, failed to agree on a new election
date prior to the military seizing power.
The toppling by the army of her brother, former premier Thaksin
Shinawatra, in 2006 ignited a long-running struggle between the
conservative middle-class and Thaksin's largely rural supporters.
The military has said it wants to put an end to Thailand's often
violent political cycle.
The protesters accused Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile
abroad to avoid a corruption sentence handed down in 2008, of
rampant vote-buying and said they wanted to eliminate his "toxic"
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The junta has widened a purge of Thaksin-linked government
officials. On Friday, it announced a reshuffle of senior civil
servants, transferring 10 Thaksin allies to inactive posts,
including Tarit Pengdith, chief of the Department of Special
Investigation, the equivalent of the U.S. FBI.
Anti-coup protests have largely dwindled in recent weeks and the few
that dare show dissent in public have been promptly detained by
police and soldiers.
In its latest public-relations effort, the junta displayed more than
1,000 weapons on Sunday it said were seized from political
activists, including Jakrapob Penkair, a former government minister
with Thaksin links who has established a movement in exile to oppose
In a Facebook post, Jakrapob denied any link to the weapons, saying
his campaign was one of non-violent civil disobedience.
The military said on Monday it was revoking Jakrapob's passport and
that of five others, including Charupong Ruangsuwan, a former
interior minister and ex-leader of Thaksin's Puea Thai Party, who
helped form the anti-coup movement.
The foreign affairs ministry said it was looking at ways to bring
Jakrapob back. He is thought to be in Hong Kong, which has no
extradition treaty with Thailand.
(Edited by Alan Raybould and Ron Popeski)
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