Thailand’s ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra has received approval to travel abroad for the first time since the military coup.
A military spokesman said the request had been approved because Yingluck Shinawatra had “kept a low profile” since her government was overthrown on May 22.
Reports suggest Yingluck Shinawatra will travel to France for the birthday of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted ahead of the military coup by Thailand’s Constitutional Court
The military seized power after months of anti-government protests in Bangkok.
Thaksin Shianwatra, who turns 65 on July 26, was ousted in a coup in 2006.
He was removed by the military, kicking off a cycle of political instability in Thailand. Convicted of corruption by a Thai court, he has been living in self-imposed exile overseas.
Yingluck Shianwatra had asked to travel to Europe from July 20 to August 10, the military said.
They agreed because she had not “violated any orders of the NCPO [military junta] or any agreements, being the ban from politics or the ban on overseas travels” and had “given good co-operation all along”, spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree told a press conference.
At least 28 people died in the anti-government protests that brought Yingluck Shinawatra’s government down.
Yingluck Shinawatra herself was ousted ahead of the coup by a Constitutional Court ruling that said she had illegally transferred her national security head. She is currently facing charges linked to a controversial government rice subsidy scheme.
The Thai army announces it has now released 124 people, including politicians and activists, who were taken into custody after the coup.
A military spokesman said a total of 253 people had been summoned. Fifty-three did not report and 76 were in custody.
Conditions for the release appear to include agreeing to avoid political activity and informing the army of travel.
Coup leaders, who took power last week, received royal endorsement on Monday.
Thailand’s former PM Yingluck Shinawatra has been released but remains under some restrictions.
Yingluck Shinawatra has been released by Thailand’s army but remains under some restrictions (photo Reuters)
Aside from politicians and activists, academics have also been detained.
Thailand’s army seized power on May 22, saying it wanted to return stability to the country after months of unrest.
Leaders of the anti-government movement have been released from custody but representatives of those who support the government remain in detention.
Correspondents say there is also a degree of skepticism about the total number of people in custody, with reports of more widespread detentions.
Rights groups have expressed alarm over the detentions, as well as the tight restrictions on media.
Television stations on Wednesday aired footage from the military showing five detainees, including pro-government “red-shirt” leader Jatuporn Prompan, at an unidentified location, in an apparent move to show they were being treated well.
Experts have said that the coup is unlikely to heal highly polarized political divisions in the country.
Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup.
Shortly before he was held, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he believed the coup would be a disaster for Thailand.
However, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he had no intention of going underground or mobilizing resistance.
Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup
On Monday the coup leaders consolidated their legal hold on the country after receiving the endorsement of the king.
The military seized power in Thailand last week, saying it planned to return stability to the country after months of unrest.
The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
However, the Thai coup – which removed an elected government – has drawn widespread international criticism.
Chaturon Chaisaeng is one of more than 100 opposition figures, academics and activists summoned to report to the military after the coup.
Many of those who have chosen, unlike Chaturon Chaisaeng, to report voluntarily are still in military custody.
Chaturon Chaisaeng was detained in front of journalists at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club where he had emerged from five days of hiding to give a press briefing.
Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was among those taken into custody after the coup but a military spokesman told AFP news agency she had now been released.
Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power.
Yingluck Shinawatra and scores of politicians from the deposed government had earlier been ordered to report to the military.
She was kept for several hours and then driven to an undisclosed location.
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha also met key officials, telling them reform must come before any elections.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha summoned governors, business leaders and civil servants to the Bangkok Army Club on Friday.
Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power (photo Reuters)
Six of Thailand’s most senior military officers have now been appointed to run the country, with provincial commanders supervising local government.
Prayuth Chan-ocha told the meeting: “I want all civil servants to help organize the country. We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people.”
The general said the coup was necessary to “quickly bring the situation back to normal”.
One local official leaving the meeting, Arkom Theerasak, told Associated Press: “There will be an election but it will take a while. The general didn’t say when.”
Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been prime minister until being removed by the judiciary this month, had been ordered to report to the military along with more than 100 other politicians, including acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.
It was unclear whether Prayuth Chan-ocha met either of them.
Some 155 politicians have been barred from leaving the country.
Reuters quoted a military officer as saying Yingluck Shinawatra, her sister and brother-in-law had been held.
Thai military spokesman Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said those detained were all involved in Thailand’s political “conflict” and he stressed the army was neutral and impartial in those that it had held.
Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said the detentions should be not be longer than a week and were intended to keep the detainees away from “tension”.
On Thursday the military suspended the constitution and banned political gatherings, saying order was needed after months of turmoil.
The US led widespread international criticism of the coup, saying there was “no justification”.
Thailand’s armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
There has been a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.
Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.
The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Yingluck Shinawatra. An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.
Three people died and more than 20 others have been injured in an attack on an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok, Thai officials say.
Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.
Protesters have been pressing the Senate to replace the cabinet with an appointed administration.
Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument
Later on Thursday, they forced a meeting between the government and the Election Commission to be abandoned.
The government is trying to organize a new general election in July, after protesters disrupted the previous election in parts of the country.
A crowd led by Suthep Thaugsuban, head of the anti-government movement, broke into the Air Force base where the meeting between acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and the commission was being held.
“The meeting is over, the prime minister is leaving. We cannot continue today,” a member of the commission was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
The Election Commission on Thursday has called for polls to be postponed due to the political unrest, AFP news agency says, citing officials.
The attack on protesters comes days after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was removed by a Thai court.
Reports said grenades were thrown in the latest attack in the early hours of Thursday, followed by gunfire. A doctor at an emergency centre in Bangkok said the wounded had been hit by shrapnel.
Police identified two of the victims as a protester who was asleep and a protest guard who was shot.
There have been a number of attacks on the protest movement since it began its street campaign against the government last year.
No group has said it carried out the attack but both pro- and anti-government groups are known to have armed hardliners.
Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy.
Earlier this week, a court ordered PM Yingluck Shinawatra and nine ministers to step down.
Thousands of police are on standby as opposition protesters are also planning a march in the capital.
Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy (photo AP)
Yingluck Shianwatra’s removal came after six months of protests which have unnerved investors and reduced tourist numbers.
Thailand has faced a power struggle since 2006, when Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister by a military coup, accused of corruption and abuse of power.
Their Pheu Thai party has a strong base of support with rural voters. Its supporters are known colloquially as “red shirts”.
Opposition supporters – dubbed “yellow shirts” – tend to be urban and middle class. They have been protesting against Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration for six months, occupying official buildings and disrupting elections in February.
Yingluck Shinawatra was ordered to step down on Wednesday over the illegal transfer of her security chief. Another court has indicted her for negligence.
A caretaker government led by Thaksin Shianwatra loyalist Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan is running the country and says it is working towards a July 20 election.
The opposition says it will not contest the polls and that political reforms must be introduced first.
On Friday, a rally of “yellow shirts” ended with police firing tear gas and water cannon. At least five demonstrators were injured.
At least 25 people have died over the course of the protests in Thailand.
Thai voting has begun in five provinces that were unable to hold polls in last month’s general election because of anti-government protests.
No disturbances have so far been reported in Sunday’s ballot.
But the election commission said the situation was still too tense in many areas for polls to re-open.
Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass rallies began in November, with protesters calling for PM Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.
They want her government to be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” to reform the political system.
The opposition alleges that money politics have corrupted Thailand’s democracy and that Yingluck Shinawatra is controlled by her brother, ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile.
Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas
Protesters marched through Bangkok on Sunday, but there were no signs of voters being prevented from attending polling stations, as had been the case in early February.
“The polls are going peacefully – everything is under control and there are no problems,” a spokesman for the election commissioner said on Sunday.
However, the ballot will still leave too many parliamentary seats unfilled for a new government to be elected.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra is therefore stuck in a caretaker role, giving her cabinet very limited powers to govern.
On Friday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced that demonstrators would end their occupation of central Bangkok in what was seen as a first sign of flexibility from the prime minister’s opponents.
Talks are also planned next week between representatives from both sides.
Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas. In response to the protests, she called snap elections on February 2, which her government was widely expected to win.
Thailand’s polls were boycotted by the opposition, and voting was disrupted by protesters at around 10% of polling stations.