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Thailand king endorses coup leaders in public announcement

[JURIST] Thailand's king has voiced his support for Tuesday's coup [JURIST report] that brought General Sonthi Boonyaratglin [BBC profile] to power, according to an announcement on Thai state-run television on Friday. Although the leaders of the new "Council of Administrative Reform" claimed to have the king's backing on Wednesday, the TV statement was the first public endorsement of the new regime: "In order to create peace in the country, the king appoints General Sonthi Boonyaratglin as head of the council of administrative reform. All people should remain peaceful and civil servants should listen to orders from General Sonthi Boonyaratglin from now on." The coup is the 18th that King Bhumibol Adulyadej [Wikipedia profile] has presided over since his reign began in 1946, and his support is seen as giving legitimacy to its leaders. In the days since the coup, the military has detained top ministers [JURIST report] from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's [BBC profile] government, taken over the tasks of Parliament [official website], and prohibited meetings of political parties. However, the first pro-democracy rally was held on Friday without incident. AP has more.

Meanwhile, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the opposition Democrat Party in Thailand [JURIST news archive], has said it should take less than a year to draft a new constitution for the country. The former constitution [PDF text; EN backgrounder] was revoked by the military leaders earlier this week. Abhisit said Friday that the document, which appeared to incorporate the people's participation on its face rather than in practice, "remains workable overall despite some flaws caused by deliberate flouting or distortion." TNA has more.

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