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Fri, September 29, 2006 : Last updated 20:28 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Politics > Our coup is different: Anand

Our coup is different: Anand

Police officers from Dusit station question a group of men dressed in Japanese superhero costumes performing a public-relations stunt in front of tanks and soldiers guarding the Royal Plaza yesterday.
Ex-PM says bloodless military takeover has been misunderstood by foreigners

Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun said he was surprised at the international reaction to the recent coup, saying it was a pity that those who write these stories are not here in Thailand.

"A coup d'etat has a different meaning in the Thai context. It's not a military coup like in Africa or Latin America, which is normally associated with severe violence, mistreatment of people and curtailment of rights," the respected former diplomat was quoted in Newsweek's September 25 edition as saying.

"The ban on political activity is not going to last long. The military has been asked what will happen if people violate the ban. They say 'well, we would caution them'. It was a bloodless coup, it was well received by the people, and the situation is still calm. There is no curfew. There is no censorship. We're all leading normal lives. All you have to do is take a three-hour flight to Bangkok and have a look," Anand added.

Anand was appointed as the country's caretaker premier following the 1991 military takeover.

Anand told Newsweek that some problems are similar to the ones he faced back in 1991, "but this time there is an added dimension. The government overthrown back in 1991 was believed to be corrupt, [but] the scale and the intensity of the corruption charges were lighter [than those against deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra].

"Secondly, when the government disappeared from the scene [in 1991] there was no fear it could make a comeback. But over the past five years Thaksin and his party have become too powerful. They have consolidated their hold over the government machinery and certain sectors of the armed forces and parliament. So I think it's a more precarious situation."

Anand said Thailand's checks and balances were corrupted by money under Thaksin. "It's not that the institutions did not function, but that unsavoury people managed to get control and influence the direction [of politics] in an incorrect way" .

Anand said he was confident that free and fair elections could be held within a year if the interim PM is able to form a cabinet consisting mostly of civilians and if the ruling council is disbanded.

He said this "would send a very strong signal that the military means business when it says this is a one-time event".

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