Updated: Civilian govt in 2 weeks
Administrative Reform Council leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin told foreign diplomats that a civilian government would be appointed to run the country within two weeks and a general election could be carried out by October next year.
In what was billed as an attempt to restore confidence among the international community, ARC leader Sonthi told about 80 Bangkok-based that the military continue to stands with the people and that the coup was in line with their wishes.
Sonthi appeared in front of about 80 envoys and 200 media representatives with other armed forces leaders who joined forces in a coup d'etat on Monday night. The army chief and coup leader spoke through an interpreter and appeared to be in good mood.
ARC is still discussing the candidacy for the upcoming caretaker prime minister but added that the person must be a neutral, believe in democracy and embrace the much revered Monarchy.
The junta leader told reporters that the decision to launch the coup came two days ago but pointed out that the idea has been quietly discussed for sometime among the military top brass.
Diplomats appeared calm at the Thai political situation and most were adopting wait and see attitude, according to a foreign envoy in the session with Sonthi and other coup leaders.
Sonthi had earlier cited corruption within the Thaksin Administration, and accused the ousted premier as being a threat to the Monarchy, deeply dividing the nation, and gross interference with the country's independent bodies, was ambiguous as to what ARC would do with Thaksin's wealth.
Sonthi said Thaksin and members of his cabinet could return to Thailand as free men because they have not been charged with any crime but ambiguous as to what the junta would do with the ousted premier's assets.
Any dealing with Thaksin's wealth will depend on the due process of law and the ARC has yet to set up any body to investigate his assets, said Sondhi, who had cited massive corruption as the justification for te coup.
Asked by a diplomat from Finland, which currently chairs the European Union, what should be the outcome of Thai democracy and messages to Western tourists, Sonthi said Thailand was and still is a democracy and that tourists can continue to visit the country.
Asked by an Australian diplomat whether the recent election of the Election Commission was not part of the normal restoration of democracy, Sonthi said that the EC and the working of the executive branch was a different matter.
Sonthi insisted that Thailand's foreign policy remained intact and that the ARC continue to support ousted Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's candidacy bid to be the next UN Secretary General, replacing outgoing Kofi Annan.
Sonthi said there would be no changes in the strategies in restoring peace in the restive deep south, adding that the Fourth Army Region Commander will remained in charge.
He also believed that there will not be much effect to the Thai economy and insisted that Thailand's foreign policy remained intact. He said the ARC continue to support ousted Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's bid for the next UN Secretary General as well as other bilateral economic agreements.
The press conference was in a relatively light-heart mood. There was no sense of tensions and all the army leaders appeared to be relaxed.
Outside the Army headquarter, there were several hundreds of people gathering to show moral support for the military. Almost all of them dressed in yellow T-shirt, showing their loyal to HM the King. Some were holding a sign saying "Thank you to the King's soldiers". Every now and then, they shouted "Thaksin, Get Out."
A retiree Somsak Tangjitwisut, 71, said he came to the army headquarter with his six other family members to support Sonthi.
"I can't remember how many times I went to the coup in my life. But I'm so happy with this coup so much that I almost cry," he said with shaken voice.
He added that he disliked Thaksin for being corrupted and wished he could never return to Thailand.