Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo
Thailand's military rulers have detained former prime
minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a senior officer said, after
summoning her for talks a day after the army overthrew her
caretaker government in a coup.
As the army moved to consolidate its grip on the country, its
chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, set out his plans for the
country, saying reforms were needed before an election. But
some Thais defied martial law to protest against the
Prayuth launched his coup after rival factions refused to
give ground in a struggle for power between the royalist
establishment and Yingluck's populist government that had
raised fears of serious violence and damaged the economy.
"We have detained Yingluck, her sister and brother-in-law," a
senior military officer told Reuters. The two relatives have
held top political posts.
"We will do so for not more than week, that would be too
long. We just need to organise matters in the country first,"
said the officer who declined to be identified.
He declined to say where Yingluck was being held, but media
said she was at an army base in Saraburi province, north of
Bangkok. Soldiers detained politicians from both sides on
Thursday after Prayuth announced the military takeover, which
drew swift international condemnation.
In what appeared to be a coordinated operation to neutralise
possible opposition to the coup, the military summoned the
ousted Yingluck to a meeting and then banned her and 154
others, including politicians and activists, from leaving
Yingluck is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire
telecommunications tycoon turned politician who won huge
support among the poor but the loathing of the royalist
establishment, largely over accusations of corruption and
nepotism. He was ousted as premier in a 2006 military coup.
Responding to the summons, Yingluck arrived at an army
facility at noon along with other politicians. Prayuth was
there at the same time but there was no confirmation they
After Prayuth had left, nine vans with tinted windows were
seen leaving but it was not clear if Yingluck was in one of
them or where they were going.
An aide to a minister in the ousted government who declined
to be identified said some people, including his minister,
had been detained. A former aide to Yingluck said she had
been out of telephone contact for hours.
Yingluck was forced to step down as prime minister by a court
on May 7 but her caretaker government, buffeted by more than
six months of protests against it, had remained nominally in
power, even after the army declared martial law on Tuesday.
Prayuth also summoned hundreds of civil servants and told
them he needed their help.
"We must have economic, social and political reforms before
elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to
return power to the people," he said.
The military has censored the media, dispersed rival
protesters and imposed a nationwide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
The armed forces have a long history of intervening in
politics - there have been 18 previous successful or
attempted coups since Thailand became a constitutional
monarchy in 1932.
"GET OUT DICTATORS"
Bangkok was mostly calm and life appeared normal but there
was some opposition to the takeover.
Several hundred people, including students, gathered in a
central shopping district despite a ban on protests by five
or more people to voice their opposition to military rule.
Some held signs saying "No coup" and "Get Out Dictators".
About 200 soldiers lined up across a road to contain the
protesters and eventually dispersed them. There was no
serious trouble but at least one person was detained, a
Reuters witness said.
About 80 protesters also gathered in the northern city of
Chiang Mai, Thaksin's hometown and powerbase, to denounce the
putsch and call for an election, a Reuters witness said.
Several policemen watched the protesters, who vowed to gather
The former education minister in Yingluck's government
criticised the coup in a posting on Facebook.
"A coup will only make the situation worse. Seizing power is
not a way out," Chaturon Chaisang said.
The military suspended television and radio broadcasts on
Thursday and made channels broadcast its material, but six
free-to-air channels came back on the air late on Friday.
Several satellite channels including partisan ones on both
sides, remained banned. International news channels were off
the air and the military threatened to block provocative
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday there was
no justification for a coup, which would have "negative
implications" for ties with its ally, especially military
Washington is reviewing its aid to Thailand and on Friday the
U.S. State Department said it had already suspended about
$3.5 million in military aid, including a portion for
"We are reviewing all programs to determine other assistance
which we may suspend," State Department spokeswoman Marie
The Thai military briefed diplomats on Friday though some
declined the invitation, apparently as a gesture of
Prayuth is a member of the royalist establishment generally
seen as hostile to the Shinawatras, although he tried for
months to keep the army out of the strife and to appear
The army chief, who is 60 and due to retire later this year,
has taken over the powers of prime minister but it was not
clear if he intended to hold on to the position.
An undercurrent of a crisis that is dividing rich and poor is
deep anxiety over the issue of royal succession. King
Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, is 86 and
spent the years from 2009 to 2013 in hospital.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn does not command the same
devotion as his father, but some Thaksin supporters have
recently been making a point of their loyalty to the prince.
MARKET REACTION MUTED
The anti-Thaksin protesters had demanded electoral changes
that would end the Shinawatras' success at the ballot box.
Thaksin or his parties have won every election since 2001.
Thaksin's "red shirt" supporters were angry but said they had
no immediate plans for protests. Many political analysts
predicted tension and violence.
Mass protests by Thaksin's well-organised loyalists would be
a major test for the military.
In 2010, more than 90 people were killed in clashes, most
when the army broke up protests against a pro-establishment
government that had taken office after a pro-Thaksin
administration was removed by the courts in 2008.
Investors have generally taken Thailand's upheavals in their
stride and the market reaction to the coup was muted.
The baht was, at around 32.60 per dollar, firmer than its low
point on Thursday of 32.70. The stock market opened down 2
percent but rallied to end 0.6 percent lower.
Thailand's economy contracted 2.1 percent in the first
quarter of 2014 largely because of the prolonged unrest,
which has frightened off tourists and dented confidence,
bringing fears of recession.