Thai military may not enter politics: Coup chief
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Thai military may not enter politics: Coup chief

Army commander General Sondhi Boonyaratklin was responding to concerns expressed by several political party leaders.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 17:00 IST

The general who led September's coup overthrowing elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Tuesday the military leaders behind the takeover have no intention of retaining power or entering politics.

Army commander General Sondhi Boonyaratklin was responding to concerns expressed by several political party leaders that some members of the military's Council for National Security that is helping run the country may join a political grouping once a new general election scheduled.

The coup leaders had said they would hold an election by October next year, though some have recently speculated it might be delayed by several months.

"We will not be clinging to power and no one from CNS will enter politics after retirement, we are retiring soon," Sondhi told reporters.

Thailand is currently governed by an military-appointed interim Cabinet and legislature, though the military, through the Council for National Security, exercises what amounts to veto power over most important decisions, including the drafting of a new constitution.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, and Somsak Prisana-anantakul, deputy leader of the Chart Thai Party, this week urged the coup leaders to state clearly their intentions after speculation was published in the Thai press that some might join a new political party being formed by breakaway members of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party.

To do so would cast doubt on the real motives for their coup, which was ostensibly to restore stability after the country became politically polarised.

Growing street protests demanded Thaksin step down because of alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Sondhi also downplayed rumors repeatedly published in the press that Thaksin, who was in New York during the coup and is now in London, may try to return to Thailand.

The military has said he is not welcome back for the time being, until the post-coup political situation is established.

Martial law imposed when the coup was launched is still in effect.

"He should not return to the country for the time being since the situation is still not yet back to normal," Sondhi said in response to a question that suggested that Thaksin was trying to return home.

"I do believe that he will not come, certainly not come, I think he realises that is it not yet the time to return," Sondhi said.

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 17:00 IST