Thailand’s military denies coup rumours: A Thai army spokesman on Monday rejected the wide-spreading rumour that the military is preparing a coup as “groundless”, according to reports.
The military is not preparing to stage a coup, said deputy army spokesman Winthai Suwaree on Monday afternoon, rejecting such speculation that has been reported in some media.
Col Winthai sought to play down those fear on Monday, telling reporters that the rumours were causing “confusion and speculation”.
“The army would like to insist there’s no secret meetings or any operations by the military as speculated,” he said.
Col Winthai added that army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha wanted Thai people to enjoy a happy New Year celebration without any concerns of a possible coup.
He also urged people to think carefully before accepting rumour as fact, said reports.
Gen Prayuth on Thursday had refused to rule out a military coup following deadly clashes that morning between anti-government protesters and police, which left two dead and scores wounded, and rumours of a coup have persisted ever since.
Violence broke out again early Saturday morning when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a protest site, killing an anti-government protest guard and injuring several others.
On Sunday, five more demonstrators were wounded when a large firecracker was hurled at a protest site near Government House.
The attacks have prompted protesters to entrench their positions around the protest sites, building sandbag walls in some places, according to reports.
The protesters are currently seeking to disrupt the scheduled February election, and continue to block registration for the polls in seven southern provinces which are Democrat Party strongholds. The Democrat Party, which is closely aligned with the anti-government protest movement, is boycotting the February 2 election.
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told his supporters to take a few days off to celebrate the New Year’s holiday with their families before coming back in January to “seize Bangkok“, saying they would not leave one inch of the capital in the hands of the “Thaksin regime” – their term for the influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Thai politics.
The Thai military has staged or attempted 18 coups in the nation’s 81 years of democracy, the last being the 2006 overthrow of the Thaksin Shinawatra government which led to the political turmoil that has gripped the country ever since.
Any overthrow of the current Yingluck Shinawatra-led government, by military coup or otherwise, is likely to enrage its supporters, who have already seen two governments they elected ousted in the past seven years – in the 2006 coup and by a 2008 judicial ruling.
These passionate supporters, commonly called the red-shirts, launched aggressive protests against a Democrat-led government in 2010 that resulted in bloody clashes with the army and ended in a military crackdown.