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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thai Army Bans Political Parties

BANGKOK, Thailand -- The Thai army banned political-party meetings and "political activities" on Thursday, two days after ousting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup, and gave no sense of how long the ban would last.

"To ensure the constitutional monarchy is functioning after reforms have been completed, the Council for Democratic Reform Under Constitutional Monarchy [CDRM] has ordered political parties to halt all meetings and political activities," the army said.

In the same order, read out on television, the coup leaders banned the formation of new parties. No more details were given.

Thailand is under martial law since Tuesday night's putsch and an earlier order banned political gatherings of more than five people as well as the free distribution of information critical of the coup on web sites. "It was anticipated," Korn Chatikavanij, said a senior member of the opposition Democrat Party and former head of JPMorgan in Thailand. "It's not really possible to organize activities with fewer than five people."

He added: "We respect the council's need for stability and will abide by it."

The military said it was forced to stage Tuesday's coup because there was no other way out of a protracted political crisis that pitted Thaksin against the old guard and street campaigners.

The coup leaders said they would craft a constitution within a year to repair flaws that Thaksin was accused of exploiting to wield near-dictatorial powers, and that they would then hold an election.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat leader, called for elections in six months and urged the generals to lift restrictions on individual rights.

"We are encouraged that they don't want to hold onto power and that their job is to put the country back on the democratic path," he said.