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Thai Leader Flying to Britain After Coup at Home


Thailand's ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has arrived in Britain after a military coup in his country.

Mr. Thaksin was deposed by the Thai army Tuesday while he was in New York for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. Wednesday he flew on a chartered Thai Airways jet to London, where his daughter is a student.

Britain's Foreign Office says the Thai leader is there on a private visit, and has not requested any meetings with government officials.

Before leaving New York Wednesday, Mr. Thaksin said he never expected the military would stage a coup. But he indicated he will not try to cling to power.

In Bangkok, the man who engineered the coup, Army Chief General Sondhi Boonyaratglin, said Mr. Thaksin's overthrow was necessary to resolve conflict and bring normalcy back to the country. He would not directly answer questions about whether Mr. Thaksin's assets will be confiscated or whether the prime minister will be prosecuted for alleged corruption.

Sondhi said King Bhumipol Adulyadej has authorized him to lead the government until a new caretaker administration is formed in two weeks. The general pledged that new elections will be held by October of 2007.

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

Thailand has experienced 18 coups or coup attempts since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

Mr. Thaksin is the first democratically elected prime minister of Thailand to serve a full term. He came to office in 2001.

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

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