Skip to main content

Thai military releases former interim PM days after coup

By Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 3:24 PM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Thai anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngamanong, center, gestures as he arrives escorted by police and soldiers at a military court in Bangkok on Thursday, June 12. The prominent anti-coup figure faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of incitement, computer crimes and ignoring a summons by the junta, police said. The Thai military carried out a coup May 22 after months of unrest had destabilized the country's elected government and caused outbursts of deadly violence in Bangkok. Thai anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngamanong, center, gestures as he arrives escorted by police and soldiers at a military court in Bangkok on Thursday, June 12. The prominent anti-coup figure faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of incitement, computer crimes and ignoring a summons by the junta, police said. The Thai military carried out a coup May 22 after months of unrest had destabilized the country's elected government and caused outbursts of deadly violence in Bangkok.
HIDE CAPTION
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
Military coup in Thailand
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Military summoned at least 280 people after coup, says 200 turned themselves in
  • Military says it has released about 155
  • The military took power last week after months of political turmoil

(CNN) -- Former interim Thai Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan is among the latest batch of people that the military has released following last week's coup, a military officer said Thursday.

Former Thai education minister arrested
Thai general receives royal endorsement

Also among the 31 people recently released was former Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Col. Sirichan Ngathong told reporters.

The military had summoned, and in some cases detained, scores of political officials and other prominent figures after the May 22 coup, which the military carried out after months of unrest that had destabilized the elected government and caused outbursts of deadly violence in Bangkok.

But the sudden intervention by the armed forces -- the latest in a series of coups that have punctuated modern Thai history -- has been criticized by human rights activists and foreign governments, including the United States.

Small groups of protesters also have gathered in Bangkok in recent days, with demonstrators calling for democratic elections. But security forces sealed off one of the main protest sites -- a monument -- on Thursday, days after the officer who led the coup suggested that the military wouldn't tolerate public displays of dissent indefinitely.

Boonsongpaisan was interim prime minister when the military conducted the coup. The military, which tore up the country's constitution and declared martial law, says it so far has summoned at least 280 people, and about 200 of them -- including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra -- turned themselves in.

The military says it has released about 155 people so far, including Yingluck, who was in office when the current phase of political turmoil began in November.

Yingluck, who was removed from office by the courts earlier this month, was released from a military facility over the weekend after she followed a summons to report to military authorities on Friday.

A military source said Yingluck was asked to "help us maintain peace and order and not to get involved with protesters or any political movement" and now has freedom of movement and communication. But a close aide to Yingluck disagreed with the assertion that she was free to move and communicate.

The military has said it would impress upon the summoned people the negative consequences their actions have had for the country in the sometimes bloody conflict of the last seven months.

Detainees determined to have no significant link to conflict and who find "common ground" for the good of the country will be released, a military spokesman previously said.

The recent unrest was driven by months of protests against Yingluck's government.

The protest leaders said they wanted to rid Thailand of the influence of Yingluck and her wealthy brother, the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in the country's last military coup in 2006.

The siblings' powerful political movement, which has dominated elections for more than a decade, draws its support from Thailand's populous rural regions in the north and northeast.

But it is unpopular among the Bangkok elites, who accuse it of buying votes through ill-judged, populist policies.

The protesters who campaigned against Yingluck's government claimed Thailand needed reforms to be imposed by an unelected council before any further elections could take place.

With the military's intervention, they appear to have gotten their wish, although some of the protest leaders were taken into custody after the coup.

On Monday, the officer who led the coup, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters there was "no set time period" for when new elections might be held, and he outlined the steps he said his junta plan to take, including setting up a committee to introduce reforms.

READ: Thai general warns protesters after announcing royal endorsement

READ: Thai military: Think before you tweet

CNN's Paula Hancocks, Jethro Mullen and journalist Kiki Dhitavat contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Thailand coup
updated 3:21 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
The military leader who took control of Thailand in a coup in May has been named the country's prime minister.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
Thailand's new military ruler has added a personal touch to the post-coup charm offensive, writing the lyrics to a pro-junta ballad.
updated 1:03 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Pageant winner Weluree "Fai" Ditsayabut has relinquished her title under a barrage of criticism over her comments about red shirts.
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
They may not be led by Katniss Everdeen, but Thai protesters have adopted one of her symbols. Jessica King reports.
updated 3:29 AM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
The general who seized control of Thailand in a coup has announced he has received royal endorsement to run the country.
updated 3:01 PM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is no longer in military custody, according to a highly placed source in the junta.
updated 5:36 AM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Photos of the demonstrations against military rule in Thailand.
updated 4:03 PM EDT, Sat May 24, 2014
U.S. suspends $3.5 million in aid to Thailand after the military took charge of the country.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Thailand's military declared Thursday that it has taken control of the country in a coup. What does it mean? Here's our explainer.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
If you're planning on visiting the country, you should be aware of what's going on.
updated 4:55 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, reacts to the Thai military coup.
updated 8:04 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
The Thai military has censored TV and radio -- and social media could be next.
updated 2:02 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
Many people are going about their lives as normal -- some are even responding playfully.
One iReporter living in Bangkok says he is more worried about neighborhood snakes than the military coup.
updated 5:48 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
Thailand's military chief announces coup in a televised national address.
ADVERTISEMENT