BBC News

Thailand coup: Ex-minister Chaturon Chaisaeng arrested

media captionFootage shows the moment Chaturon Chaisaeng was arrested, as the BBC's Jonathan Head reports

Soldiers have detained a prominent minister in the ousted Thai government who emerged from hiding to criticise last week's coup.

Shortly before he was held, Chaturon Chaisaeng told the BBC he believed the coup would be a disaster for Thailand.

But the former education minister said he had no intention of going underground or mobilising resistance.

On Monday the coup leaders consolidated their legal hold on the country after receiving the endorsement of the king.

The military seized power in the South East Asian nation last week, saying it planned to return stability to Thailand after months of unrest.

The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.

But the coup - which removed an elected government - has drawn widespread international criticism.

One of the key measures of the coup - an overnight curfew from 22:00 to 05:00 - has now been relaxed.

From midnight, the curfew will last just four hours, 00:00 to 04:00 (17:00-21:00 GMT).

'Bad for Thailand'

Mr Chaturon is one of more than 100 opposition figures, academics and activists summoned to report to the military after the coup.

Many of those who have chosen, unlike Mr Chaturon, to report voluntarily are still in military custody.

media captionThailand's Chaturon Chaisaeng: "I think that the coup... will bring disaster to this country"

Mr Chaturon was detained in front of journalists at Bangkok's Foreign Correspondents' Club where he had emerged from five days of hiding to give a press briefing.

In a televised interview with the BBC just before his detention, he said he was ready to be arrested.

"When I said I would not report to the [military] council I also said that I was not going to escape, I was not going to go underground or mobilise people to resist the military," he said.

"When it is the right time I will be ready to be arrested. Now is the time because the coup makers got the royal proclamation. According to the Thai legal system the coup is accomplished."

He emphasised that he did not back the takeover.

"I still think that the coup is bad for the country. The coup is an abrogation of democracy and will bring disaster to this country. But according to the legal system I have acknowledged that the coup makers have some legal power."

Experts have also warned that the coup is unlikely to heal divisions in a nation in which politics have become highly polarised.

The current deadlock dates from 2006, when the military ousted Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in a coup.

Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have strong support in rural areas, propelling them to successive election victories.

But they are bitterly opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite, who formed the heart of the protest movement that began working to oust Ms Yingluck in November 2013.

Ms Yingluck was among those taken into custody after the coup but a military spokesman told AFP news agency she had now been released.

Human rights groups, meanwhile, have expressed alarm over the tight restrictions on the media and over the detention of dozens of people.

Related Topics

  • Thailand