Thai coup leaders to amend statute

Military junta may seize Thaksin’s assets

Bangkok, September 22:

Thailand’s new military rulers today appointed nine people to investigate corruption under deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra and announced plans to write a new constitution to hold future leaders more accountable.

Lt Gen Palanggoon Klaharn, a spokesman for military leaders who seized power late on Tuesday, told a news conference that the group reaffirms its “intention to bring back peace and order.” The military rulers, formally called the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy, said they were appointing nine people to a reconstituted corruption commission to investigate wrongdoing by the Thaksin government.

Following their rapid, bloodless coup, the council scrapped Thailand’s 1997 constitution, which had been aimed at ushering in a stable democracy, but instead allowed Thaksin to consolidate extraordinary powers in his hands.

Palanggoon said an effort would be made to work out the “loopholes” in the constitution to make leaders more accountable. The new military rulers also searched for a prominent, corruption-free civilian to be interim leader while purging Thaksin’s associates, including four senior police officers. They were holding three ministers of the deposed government in custody and other detenions were expected.

Under sharp criticism from the international community for their coup, the council was moving to appoint a civilian interim prime minister within a promised two weeks.

Speculation in the local press today focused on several possible prime ministerial candidates with clean records including Supachai Panitchpadki, who heads the UN Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD, Supreme Administrative Court President Ackaratorn Chularat, and Pridiyathorn Devakula, who heads Thailand’s central bank.

The coup leader and army commander, Gen Sondhi Boonyaratkalin took part in a ceremony today which formalised the monarch’s backing.

Meanwhile, the military junta said that the assets of the ousted billionaire prime minister may be seized. “It’s under consideration on how we will proceed” with Thaksin’s vast assets, said Air Chief Marshall Chalit Pukbhasuk, the head of the air force.

Students’ protest

BANGKOK: About 100 protesters defied a junta ban on Friday to take part in Thailand’s first rally against the military ouster of premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Some 30 activists briefly sat down outside Siam Paragon, the kingdom’s biggest and glitziest shopping mall in the capital Bangkok, as scores gathered nearby for the peaceful protest. The junta banned gatherings of more than five people after seizing power. But 20 police watched the demonstration without taking action, joined by dozens of journalists and a large crowd of curious shoppers. “We are not afraid of the coup leaders,” Giles Ji Aungpakorn, a political science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said earlier. — AFP