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Thailand army disbands Senate, intensifies post-coup crackdown

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 6:45pm IST | Place: Bangkok | Agency: PTI

Thailand's military junta on Saturday dismissed the country's Senate as it intensified its post-coup crackdown and summoned 35 more people after detaining former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and top leaders of the ousted government for up to a week.

"The Senate is dismissed. Responsibility for any laws needing the approval of the parliament or Senate will instead be assumed by the leader of the (junta)," said an announcement on national television, two days after Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha staged a bloodless coup.

Addressing the media for the first time after the elected government was deposed, the military said it will detain former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and top leaders of the ousted government as well as some protest leaders for up to a week to give them "time to think" over a political compromise.

It declined to specify where the detainees were held but said they were safe.

"They will be detained for up to one week depending on how directly they were involved (in Thailand's political conflict)," army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said.

Under martial law, a person can be detained without charge for no more than a week.

The military junta summoned 35 more people, including political activists and, for the first time, academics, to "maintain peace and order." It was not clear whether they would be detained.

Deputy army spokesman Col Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said that all the detained politicians were being well-treated and that the aim of the military was to achieve a political compromise.

"This is in a bid for everybody who is involved in the conflict to calm down and have time to think...We don't intend to limit their freedom but it is to relieve the pressure," Weerachon said.

The army staged the coup - the 12th since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 - after it failed to forge a compromise between political rivals to end nearly seven months of political conflict that left Thailand in limbo.

Sporadic protests spread in the capital for a second day today as hundreds of anti-coup demonstrators defied the military's ban on large gatherings and staged a protest, but they were surrounded by soldiers and police.

The army have deployed soldiers to clear protesters and enforce martial law on the streets in Bangkok.

Gen Prayuth, who has appointed himself the new Prime Minister, is expected to remain in the role for the immediate future, a source close to the coup leader said, Bangkok Post reported.

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