We did it for the people: Sonthi
In his first TV interview with an international news organisation, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, leader of the Council for National Security, on Thursday night spoke to CNN's Dan Rivers about the reasons for the coup, the lifting of martial law and the return of democracy. Below are excepts.
Rivers: Why did you stage the coup?
Sonthi: There had been a lot of vote buying during the previous election. Most of the people were not satisfied with this situation. They had called on the military to do something about it. We did it for the people of Thailand.
But some of your critics will say that by ripping up the constitution, by sending the tanks on to the streets, you've done more harm than good.
As I have mentioned, Thailand is a unique country and we have a unique way to administrate our country. You can see what we did in September - it was welcomed by the people. Flowers, food, water were given to our soldiers. We had a deadlock that we could not release, so it was necessary for us to take precautions and take action. It was like us stepping backward to jump forward for the future of our country.
Martial law is still in place: when will that be lifted?
The reason it is still in place is that there are still movements of those people who lost their interests with the removal of the government. Once these have stopped, we are ready to lift martial law.
By the end of the year?
People think you've turned the clock back 15 years.
We have the Council for National Security to oversee what is being done at the moment. It's important the people be educated in the ways of democracy. The past government, and the situation that has passed recently, is a very precious lesson. Thai people will be far more educated voters in the next election and hope vote buying will be diminished in the future.