Chuck Hagel urges Thailand to 'return to democracy'

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called on Thailand to "return to democracy" during an Asia-Pacific security forum after the military took over control of the government in a coup.

Hagel calls on Thailand to 'return to democracy'

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called on Thailand to "return to democracy" during an Asia-Pacific security forum after the military took over control of the government in a coup.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hage Credit: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/Press Association Images

"We will also respond when nations retreat from democracy, as in Thailand. We urge the Royal Thai Armed Forces to release those who have been detained, end restrictions on free expression, and move immediately to restore power to the people of Thailand through free and fair elections.

"Until that happens, as US law requires, the US State of Department is suspending and reconsidering US assistance and engagement with Bangkok", he said.

Advertisement

Thai soldiers detain former minister after criticism

Chaturon Chaisang waves from inside a military van after being detained.
Chaturon Chaisang waves from inside a military van after being detained. Credit: Reuters

Soldiers have captured and detained Thailand's former education minister, an open critic of the new military regime in the country.

Chaturon Chaisang, who had been on the run after refusing to turn himself in to the military after being summoned, had just given a talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand.

He had denounced a coup that he said would only exacerbate conflict in the polarised country.

Other former ministers were detained by the military after the coup on May 22 although most, including former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, have now been freed, even if their movements are being monitored.

Read: Thai army urges US to understand reasons behind coup

Thailand general issues warning to protesters

Thai soldiers take up position to secure the Victory Monument square to bar protesters from staging anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok. Credit: AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn

Thailand's military ruler has issued a strong warning to anyone opposed to last week's coup, urging dissenters not to cause trouble or else the nation could rever back to the "old days" of turmoil and street violence.

Speaking in his first public appearance since seizing power, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, said:

"I'm not here to argue with anyone. I want to bring everything out in the open and fix it.

Right now there are people coming out to protest. So do you want to go back to the old days? I'm asking the people in the country, if you want it that way, then I will have to enforce the law."

More: Former PM Shinawatra 'released from custody'

Former PM Shinawatra 'released from custody'

Former Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
Former Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra. Credit: Soeren Stache/DPA

Former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been released from military custody, an aide has claimed.

According to the Associated Press, the anonymous aide said she had returned home.

Shinawatra had been forced from power earlier this month and was being held at an undisclosed location since Friday.

Thai coup leader claims endorsement from King

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha looks on during a news conference at Army Headquarters in Bangkok on Monday. Credit: Reuters

Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said that Thailand's king had formally endorsed his position as head of the military council that will run the country.

He also said in a statement he read on television that he would have no choice but to use force if political protests flared up again. He said he aimed for an election as soon as possible but gave no timeframe for a vote.

The army imposed martial law on May 20 and then seized power on May 22 after nearly seven months of political turmoil.

Advertisement

Thai anti-coup protesters briefly scuffle with soldiers

Thai anti-coup protesters briefly scuffled with soldiers after a woman blew a plastic whistle and hurled insults, Reuters reported.

Protesters against military rule and soldiers deployed to control them confront each other at Bangkok's shopping district.
Protesters against military rule and soldiers deployed to control them confront each other at Bangkok's shopping district. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Commuters take pictures of soldiers blocking the access to a pedestrian bridge.
Commuters take pictures of soldiers blocking the access to a pedestrian bridge. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Soldiers detain an activist during the protests in Bangkok.
Soldiers detain an activist during the protests in Bangkok. Credit: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Thai army urges US to understand reasons for coup

A spokesman for the Thai army has urged the US to understand the reasons behind its military takeover after Washington said it was suspending military aid to the country.

The US responded swiftly to the coup, which was launched on Thursday, and suspended around $3.5 million (£2.1 million) in military aid.

The military line a street in Bangkok as Thai anti-coup protesters rally.
The military line a street in Bangkok as Thai anti-coup protesters rally. Credit: RTV

"We seek for a kind understanding of the situation in our country. One template cannot be applied to every situation," deputy army spokesman Werachon Sukhonpatipak said at a news in Bangkok.

The military has detained leaders of the ousted government including Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and an unknown number of her ministers, party officials and supporters.

US calls for release of political leaders in Thailand

The US State Department has cancelled engagements with Thailand amid a military coup, it said in a statement.

People hold signs while kneeling during a protest against military rule at Victory Monument in central Bangkok.
People hold signs while kneeling during a protest against military rule at Victory Monument in central Bangkok. Credit: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

"We urge the immediate restoration of civilian rule and release of detained political leaders, a return to democracy through early elections, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms", the department said.

Read: US cancels military training in Thailand

US cancels military training in Thailand

The US military has cancelled training exercises with Thailand, as well as a visit to the Asian nation.

Pentagon Press Secretary Real Admiral John Kirby said: "As we have made clear, it is important that 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."

Read more: Thailand: Angry protests after former PM's 'arrest'

Load more updates