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Coup 'prevented another Syria'

The junta yesterday told foreign media that it needed to step in to prevent Thailand from regressing into chaos like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It also insisted it had no political ambition to take over the country for the long term.

Explaining the motives for last week's coup, Army deputy chief of staff, Lt-General Chatchalerm Chalerm-sukh, said the intensification of Thailand's decade-long conflict six months ago had made it potentially deadly. He also said the civilian government could not run the country because of its lack of a full mandate.

The military has discovered consignments of war weapons in Lop Buri and Khon Kaen, which rival groups had amassed for conflict, he claimed.

"The security agencies could not allow opposing factions to clash," Chatchalerm told the foreign media at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. "There might have been a winner eventually but the country would be at the mercy of a conflict like Syria, Libya and Iraq. That's not what Thai people want."

Chatchalerm was quizzed at length about the junta's road map for restoring democracy, drafting a new constitution and holding elections. He said there was a plan in place but he could not disclose the timeline at this point.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee, who was also at the briefing, said the ministry had not yet been given guidelines on foreign policy from the junta but that business would be conducted as usual in the meantime.


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