Coup D’État in Thailand

“The army commander Gen Sonthi Boonyarataglin staged a coup d’etatTuesday evening (Thailand time) and ousted the government of PrimeMinister Thaksin Shinawatra,” the Bangok Post reports.

The coup leaders were opportunistic in their timing. Thaksin was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. In addition, the coup “occurred late Tuesday night, when Bangkok was under a major rainstorm, and few people were seen on the streets,” according to the Post.

World Politics Review contributor Graham Lees emailed late Tuesday night from Bangkok and reported that the situation was confused there. “There are real risks here of a clash between rival military factions, pro- and anti- Thaksin, [the latter of which are] the cause of the coup,” Lees wrote.

We hope to have an update from Graham on the situation in Thailand by mid-day Wednesday.

For background on the situation that led to the coup, see this International Herald Tribune timeline.

The Washington Post story on the coup contains this interesting nugget:

Yesterday, Thaksin trumpted his accomplishments in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He declared, for example, that his government has significantly reduced the number of Thais living in poverty and cut the unemployment rate to 1.5 percent. The lecture was titled, “The Future of Democracy in Asia.”

Thaksin’s spokesman today predicted the coup will not succeed, which tells us very little. Also, if you can wait through the commercial, this Associated Press video shows Thai military units on the streets of Bangkok.

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