Thailand: Military denies rumors of coup plots — Thailand’s army on Monday categorically denied rumors that it was plotting a coup to overthrow the caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, saying it is moving tanks and armaments to Bangkok for the annual Children’s Day and for the new Army Day parade, according to reports.
Army deputy spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said on Monday that the army will on Thursday be moving tanks, artillery and other weaponry into Bangkok in preparation for this Saturday’s Children’s Day, when army bases are opened annually for children and their parents.
“The artillery and other weaponry will be returned to their home bases right after Children’s Day,” said Col Sirichan.
“We want the public to be informed and not to believe rumours (of a possible coup),” she added.
In addition, Maj Gen Wara Bunyasit said the army will be moving troops and artillery into Bangkok from Monday until Thursday for the Army Day parade which is scheduled for January 18, reported the Bangkok Post.
“This year is the first year we’ll hold this parade and we’ve been planning it since mid-2013. This is army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha’s idea of wanting the army to show its great force, modern weapons and soldiers’ strength to foreign military attaches,” he said.
“This is not a preparation for the army to stage a coup, as rumoured, and I ask the people not to panic,” Maj Gen Wara said.
First Infantry Division commander Maj Gen Varah Boonyasit also said the troops and military equipment being transported into Bangkok are for the parade on Thai Armed Forces Day January 18.
“This year’s parade will feature army vehicles in addition to the troops. Military attaches from varied embassies have been invited to view the ceremony which will be held in honor of army chief Gen Prayudh Chan-ocha and supreme commander Gen Tanasak Patimapakorn who will retire at the end of September 2014,” he said.
“Such activity is no preparations for a military coup as groundlessly rumored. Members of the public need not fear,” Varah added.
Anti-government protesters have planned a “Bangkok shutdown” on January 13, in an ongoing effort to force caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.
Two top pro-government red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders have said the troop movements were preparations for a military coup, which would be attempted before January 13.
Some analysts believe the anti-government protesters are trying to force the military’s hand and prevent the scheduled February 2 election from taking place, which the ruling Pheu Thai Party is expected to win.