THAI police and soldiers flooded downtown Bangkok yesterday to pre-empt further protests against last month’s coup after the army chief said a return to democracy would take more than a year.
In a televised address late on Friday, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military would need time to reconcile Thailand’s antagonistic political forces and to engineer reforms.
Chan-ocha, who ousted the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after months of protests, appealed for patience from Thailand’s international allies after outlining his reform plan.
“We understand that we are living in a democratic world. All we are asking for is give us time to reform,” Chan-ocha said in his address. He was seated at a table with flowers and portraits of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit on a wall behind him. “We believe that you will choose our kingdom before a flawed democratic system.”
The response from foreign governments was to keep up the pressure on the ruling junta to call elections quickly.
At a conference yesterday in Singapore, the United States called for free and fair elections. Meanwhile Australia scaled back relations with the Thai military and banned coup leaders from travelling there.