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Thai general warns protesters after announcing royal endorsement

May 26 2014, 15:38

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha addressed reporters in Bangkok, saying he had received a royal command from the country's deeply revered King to head the ruling military council.Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha addressed reporters in Bangkok, saying he had received a royal command from the country's deeply revered King to head the ruling military council.The general who seized control of Thailand in a coup last week said Monday that he has received royal endorsement to run the politically unstable country and warned of a potential crackdown on people protesting military rule, cnn reports.

Dressed in a white uniform and flanked by more than a dozen other military officials, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha addressed reporters in Bangkok, saying he had received a royal command from the country's deeply revered King to head the ruling military council.

Saying there was "no set time period" for when new elections might be held, Prayuth outlined the steps he said his junta plans to take, including setting up a committee to introduce reforms.

But he also issued a warning to the groups of protesters who have gathered in Bangkok in recent days to voice their opposition to the coup and call for democratic elections.

The demonstrators, who numbered in the hundreds on Sunday, have scuffled with soldiers in the streets. So far, the military has allowed the small-but-growing protests to take place, even though martial law forbids gatherings of more than five people.

With more protests expected Monday, Prayuth suggested the military wouldn't tolerate public displays of dissent indefinitely, saying the situation was reaching a "boiling point."

He urged people to stop demonstrating, warning that they risk a stricter enforcement of martial law and prosecution in military courts, and told journalists and social media users not to transmit provocative messages.

Coup criticized

The Thai military carried out the coup Thursday -- tearing up the constitution and imposing a curfew -- after months of unrest that had destabilized the elected government and caused outbursts of deadly violence in Bangkok.

But the sudden intervention by the armed forces -- the latest in a series of coups that have punctuated modern Thai history -- has been criticized by human rights activists and foreign governments, including the United States.

Receiving endorsement from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand's ailing but widely admired monarch, adds legitimacy to Prayuth's credentials.

But it appears unlikely to change the opinions of many of the protesters who have been taking to the streets to demonstrate against the coup. Other Thais have expressed hope that the military will succeed in bringing an end to the crisis that has plagued the country for months..

Politicians, academics summoned

Since taking power, military authorities have summoned -- and in some cases detained -- scores of leading political officials and other prominent figures, such as academics and business leaders. Travel bans have also been imposed.

Among the most high-profile figures who've turned themselves in is former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was in office when the current phase of political turmoil began in November.

Yingluck, who was removed from office by the courts earlier this month, was released from a military facility over the weekend after she followed a summons to report to military authorities on Friday.

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