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Thai military summons former premier, spells out new agenda

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Bangkok, May 23: A day after staging a coup, Thai army chief today summoned top politicians, including former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and outlined his plans for the deeply polarised nation, saying economic, social and political reforms were needed before returning power to the people.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has appointed himself the new prime minister, divided government responsibilities among leaders of the armed forces and police.

The 60-year-old tough-talking general said that before an election can be held, the country needed to undergo reforms in a wide range of economic, social and political areas.

"We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people," he said. Rice farmers will be one of the first priorities of the new administration, the coup leader said. He said a budget had been made available to make payments to farmers, who are owed hundreds of millions of baht under the failed pledging scheme run by the former Pheu Thai Party-led government.

He said he believed the farmers would get their money within 15 to 20 days, Bangkok Post reported. Earlier in the day, Yingluck and her close associates today appeared at a military facility here after being summoned by the military junta.

Yingluck was among approximately 150 people who had been summoned by General Prayuth to restore peace in the country following months of turmoil.

Yingluck arrived at the Royal Thai Army auditorium in Thewes in a black bullet-proof Volkswagen van, with a vanguard of bodyguards. BBC reported Yingluck left the facility where she had been summoned and was going to another military location.

It was not clear if she was still being detained. Yingluck's appearance ended speculation that she had left the country after General Prayuth declared martial law, Bangkok Post reported.

The army also banned 155 prominent political figures from leaving the country without permission and threatened to arrest those who disobey its orders. Traffic was thin on the normally crowded streets, but many people returned to work.

Unlike the last coup in 2006, there were no tanks on the streets and only few soldiers were deployed to guard key buildings. The army yesterday suspended the Constitution and declared nationwide night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am after months of anti-government protests left the country in limbo.


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