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Coup In Thailand

The chief of Thailand's army, General Sonthi Boonyaratklin, and other members of what is called the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy, have overthrown the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The military coup accuses the former Thai prime minister and his associates of causing unprecedented conflicts and division among the Thai people, and claims that most Thais had doubts about the honesty of the government due to widespread corruption. Mr. Thaksin was at the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York when the coup took place. In a written statement he told reporters that all parties should "find ways and means to reconcile and work together toward national reconciliation for the sake of our king and country."

Four associates of Mr. Thaksin have been taken into custody. They include former deputy prime minister Chitchai Wannasathit and former minister of natural resources and environment Yongyut Tiyapairat. The coup leaders have reportedly declared martial law, placed restrictions on the media, and banned political party meetings and gatherings. Tom Casey, the U.S. State department deputy spokesman, offered this comment:

"We certainly have seen those reports and if these are, in fact, true, then that would constitute a setback for democratic rule in Thailand and I think would go against some of the statements that the coup leaders themselves have made."

The coup leaders say they plan to restore democracy in Thailand as soon as possible. They have also publicly pledged to install an interim, civilian government quickly. Mr. Casey says the U.S. "want[s] to see a handover to civilian authorities as quickly as possible":

"Some of the specifics of how the Thai people choose to develop their democratic system I'll leave up to them.... I have seen those statements saying that this may happen in a year. We'd like to see more rapid progress than that."

State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says that in Thailand, "[A] swift return to democratic civilian government is in order and that includes a swift holding of elections."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.