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Thai Army deploys troops, threatens protesters with mass arrests

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Thailand’s military junta has sent thousands of police and troops across the capital, Bangkok, in an attempt to prevent expected anti-coup rallies.

Deputy police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said on Sunday that nearly 6,000 police and soldiers were being sent to central Bangkok and rapid deployment units are prepared to halt protests that might take place elsewhere.

Several malls in the Ratchaprasong area closed or decreased opening hours and the operator of the Skytrain overhead rail network shut some stations in the central area.

“It’s a business center and we need to … avoid any damage if authorities need to break up a gathering,” Somyot said.

On May 22, the Thai army seized power following months of anti-government protests and violence in Thailand.

The military authorities have banned political gatherings of five or more people, but demonstrations against the coup have been held almost daily.

The coup leaders have constantly warned that they will take tough action against anyone opposing their authority.

In a televised address on Friday, military chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha ruled out elections for at least one year to perform what he called political “reforms”, adding that the army is trying to bring “democracy” back to the nation in the next 15 months.

Prayuth also said that in a first phase of around three months, the armed forces would concentrate on “reconciliation” in the intensely divided nation. At the next year-long stage, the country will have a new cabinet and draft constitution to implement reforms, he added.

General Prayuth further argued that restrictions on the press and social media were “necessary” to prevent more divisions in the country.


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