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International community slams coup

Foreign leaders call for early elections; warn their citizens against travelling

The international community has widely criticised the power seizure by the Armed Forces on Thursday, with the United States condemning the coup and implying it would have negative implications for bilateral relations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called for "early elections that reflect the will of the people" and said "there was no justification for the seizure".

"This act will have negative implications for US-Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military. We are reviewing our military and other assistance and engagements, consistent with US law," he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was seriously concerned by the military takeover. In a statement, Ban appealed "for a prompt return to constitutional, civilian and democratic rule, as well as an all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity in Thailand".

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Office said martial law and military orders being imposed might infringe on fundamental freedoms. Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said: "We remind the authorities of Thailand's obligations under the international human-rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which strictly limit the application of emergency powers."

Her office urged the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected.

Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Australia also voiced concerns.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday condemned the Thai Army's decision to seize control. In a statement, he urged restraint by the Thai Army and the resumption of the political process as soon as possible.

The Army leaders should restart a political dialogue, particularly to pave the way for voting and assure the constitutional rights of the Thai people as well as press freedom.

German citizens in Thailand were urged to avoid protest sites and keep updated on the situation.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the coup and called for an immediate return to the rule of law.

He called for an election to be organised as well as the need "for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Thai people to be respected".

'Extremely concerned'

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary William Hague also urged Thailand to restore a democratically elected civilian government.

"I am extremely concerned by today's coup," Hague said in a statement on Thursday. "We look, therefore, to the authorities to set out a quick, clear timetable for elections to help re-establish the democratic framework of governance."

The International Federation of Journalists accused the military of crippling and trying to silence the media.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday that she was "gravely concerned".

"It is a volatile situation," Bishop told national radio.

"We are monitoring it closely, but people need to pay close attention to their personal security and their travel plans."

Thailand's friends in Asia also expressed regret over the coup.

Japanese Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, while regretting the coup, pledged to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and companies in the country. "It is an extremely regrettable situation," he told a news conference.

"We are strongly calling for the country's political situation to be resolved peacefully through sincere dialogue."

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry yesterday advised citizens to avoid travelling to Thailand "for personal safety and security reasons".

It said Malaysians living in Thailand should obey the curfew and "maintain sufficient stocks of food and water at home".

Singapore's Foreign Ministry yesterday issued a travel advisory, urging its citizens to "seriously reconsider" trips to Thailand after the military seized power in a bloodless coup.

"The situation is unpredictable and volatile, and may evolve quite rapidly," the ministry said on its website.


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