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Thailand's Coup Leaders Hold Thaksin Aides, Ban All Political Meetings


Thailand's coup leaders say they have detained at least four close aides to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Military leaders in Bangkok said Thursday they are holding the deputy prime minister Chitchai Wannasathit, former Prime Minister Thaksin's top aide Prommin Lertsuridej, the environmental minister Yongyut Tiyaphairat and the office minister Newin Chidchob.

That news follows a statement read on national television earlier Thursday in which the coup leaders said they have banned all political meetings and have ordered parties to cease all activities.

They have also banned any public gathering by five or more people, and say they will impose new restrictions on the media, including a ban on publishing public opinion.

Thai military officials said the sweeping restrictions will continue until work is completed on planned reforms.

Thailand's military leaders have promised to appoint an interim prime minister within two weeks, and hold new elections within a year.

The ban on political meetings is seen as the Thai military's latest move to maintain control since the overthrow of former Prime Minister Shinawatra Tuesday.

From London, Mr. Thaksin called Thursday, for new national elections to be held quickly. He said he is taking a "deserved rest" from politics for the time being.

Coup leaders say Mr. Thaksin's ouster was necessary to resolve internal political conflicts.

Mr. Thaksin was in New York attending the opening of the U.N. General Assembly at the time of coup. He flew to London on Wednesday.

Share prices on Thailand's stock market dropped almost four percent when market trading resumed Thursday, but recovered much of those losses within minutes.

Thailand's royal palace has endorsed the military action. However, the international community has voiced condemnation and concern about events in Bangkok, and called for a swift return to democracy.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, says there was "no justification for a military coup," and that the U.S. will review all aspects of its relationship with Thailand.

In April, Mr. Thaksin dissolved parliament and called elections after weeks of demonstrations calling for his resignation. The opposition boycotted the election, and the courts later deemed the poll illegal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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