মঙ্গলবার ২৪শে নভেম্বর, ২০২০ ইং ৯ই অগ্রহায়ণ, ১৪২৭ বঙ্গাব্দ

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US cuts military aid to Thai after coup

আপডেটঃ ১:১৪ অপরাহ্ণ | মে ২৪, ২০১৪

DHAKA: The US has suspended $3.5m (£2.1m) in military aid to Thailand and urged the country’s army to restore civilian rule “immediately”.

Washington also urged tourists to cancel trips and halted non-essential visits by US government officials.

The move came as former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra spent her first night in military custody.

She was detained along with dozens of political figures on Friday as the coup leaders tightened their grip on power.

An army spokesman said Ms Yingluck would not be held for more than a week but insisted that her detention was necessary while matters in the country were organised.

Ms Yingluck, who had been PM until being removed by the judiciary this month, was ordered to report to the military along with more than 100 other politicians, including acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha also met key officials, telling them reform must come before any elections.

Gen Prayuth summoned governors, business leaders and civil servants to the Bangkok Army Club on Friday.

Six of Thailand’s most senior military officers have now been appointed to run the country, with provincial commanders supervising local government.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says that, unlike in previous coups, there have been no promises of a quick return to civilian rule.

Gen Prayuth told the meeting: “I want all civil servants to help organise the country. 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 added.

The United States led widespread international criticism of the coup, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying there was “no justification”.

The US State Department swiftly halted the $3.5 million (£2.1m) of military assistance in its overall aid to the country of $10.5 million (£6.2m).

But an official said the US would continue joint exercises currently taking place with the Thai military.

The US had contacted Thailand’s military leaders and urged “the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy and, obviously, respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty,” a State Department spokeswoman told reporters.

Thailand’s armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

There has been a power struggle since Ms Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.

Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.

The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Ms Yingluck. An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.

Source: BBC