Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thai Political Party Meetings Banned

[Via AP] Thailand's new ruling junta on Thursday,21 September announced a ban on meetings of political parties and barred the establishment of new parties. The announcement, made on all Thai television stations, said the action was taken to maintain peace and order.

The bans were the latest moves by the junta to maintain control, even though no open opposition has surfaced to its takeover. Other moves include limitations on public meetings and restrictions on the media.

Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra lay low in London as the junta purged his followers and also took steps to possibly go after the vast assets of the tycoon turned politician.

Thaksin said in London that he will take a "deserved rest" and he urged the military to quickly arrange for new national elections. He also urged "all parties to find ways and means to reconcile and work toward national reconciliation for the sake of our king and country."

Less than 48 hours after tanks rolled into the streets to overthrow Thaksin's regime, the Thai capital appeared to have returned to normalcy, with all businesses reopening and Bangkok's notorious traffic jams.

And despite condemnation of the coup by Western and some Asian governments, hope emerged on the home front that the new government might have a chance to resolve a bloody Muslim insurgency that has led to the deaths of more than 1,700 people.

An exiled rebel leader welcomed the military coup, saying that it could help resolve the country's bloody Muslim insurgency.

Luqman B. Lima, an exiled leader of one of several groups fighting the central government for a separate Muslim state, said coup leader Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, a Muslim, was the "only one who knows the real problems" of the Malay Muslim-dominated provinces of southern Thailand.

The southern provinces were originally part of an independent Malay Sultanate of Pattani, a region which adopted Islam in the mid-13th century. The Southern Pattani region was annexed by Thailand in 1902 hence began the Thai suppression the Southern Malay Muslims.

"We hope that the political (situation) can be resolved under Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin as the new leader," Luqman said. Luqman, the vice president of the Pattani United Liberation Organization, or PULO, living in exile in Sweden.

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