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International community concerned

Respect principles of democracy: US

The international community yesterday expressed concerns over the military's imposition of martial law covering the entire country.

The United States said it understood that this was not a coup and that it expected the Army not to undermine democratic institutions, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"All parties are urged to respect democratic principles, including respect for freedom of speech. The US firmly believes all parties must work together to resolve differences through dialogue and find a way forward. This development underscores the need for elections to determine the will of the Thai people," she added.

Meanwhile the US Embassy in Bangkok advised US citizens to stay alert, exercise caution and monitor media coverage.

"You are advised to avoid areas where there are protests, large gatherings, or security operations and follow the instructions of Thai authorities," said the message yesterday.

According to a Royal Thai Army announcement, the military has assumed responsibility for maintaining peace and order, and martial law gives the military more authority to ensure public security and safety, the US Embassy said. Thailand's Constitution and caretaker government remain in place, according to Thai media.

"US citizens are cautioned that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings.

"Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports. You should allow extra time when travelling throughout the city or to/from airports. Consider using public transportation, read the message," the US advisory said.

Japan also expressed concerns. "We have grave concerns about the situation in Thailand. We once again strongly urge all parties concerned to act in a self-restrained manner without using violence," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in Tokyo.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Agence France-Presse: "We have been deeply concerned ... following the developments in Thailand.

"Indonesia has consistently called for respect of the constitutional process and democratic principles in order to promote national reconciliation and unity, reflecting the wishes of the Thai people. It is our hope that this latest development will not detract from such principles and normalcy can quickly be restored," he said.

Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said his country was just cheering on the sidelines for Thailand to resolve its problems. "Thailand is a great country. They've shown their resilience and we're confident that this is a short-term hiccup," he said in Manila.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urged all parties in Thailand to resolve their differences through peaceful democratic processes. "Thailand has Australia's goodwill and support as it tries to find ways to settle its difficulties."


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