After Thai Coup, Calm Prevails For Now

After Thai Coup, Calm Prevails For Now

BANGKOK, Thailand -- For a time during the dark, stormy night it was feared that rival military factions might clash on the rain-swept streets of Thailand's sprawling capital for control of the city following a coup during Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's absence at the UN General Assembly. But by dawn Wednesday it became apparent that despite calls by Thaksin in New York for the arrest of the coup leaders, no one was riding to his rescue.

Pro-Thaksin elements in the military, police and political hierarchy, including the army supreme commander who had talked directly with the mercurial political leader by phone in the United States, had either thrown in their lot with the plotters or were under arrest.

Despite expressions of shock and dismay from political leaders across East Asia and in the West, the coup comes as no great surprise to many people in Bangkok. The capital's newspapers had been reporting rumors of possible military intervention for more than one week, during Thaksin's prolonged absence from the country on one of his numerous world tours, which many opponents viewed as little more than self-promotion, mixed with a little business on the side.

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