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Implications on Samui of the military coup still uncertain

As Thailand his hit by another military coup, nobody can be sure the true implications, how it will affect Thai nationals, ex-patriots, tourists or the long term stability of the country. On Thursday Thailand’s military seized power and ordered a 10pm curfew and a new ban on gathering in groups of more than five or face instant arrest. On Thursday night police and military presence was not seen in Koh Samui, although many bars and restaurants shut their doors before the 10pm curfew, it is unclear whether this was on any kind of authoritarian instruction or simply through fear of reprisals from information gleaned from the media before the international TV and news channels broadcasts ceased late afternoon on Thursday and military broadcasts took over. Many 7-11 stores shut around the island around 10pm, although the curfew so far in Samui seems to have not been enforced.

The powerful army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced the military coup in a statement broadcast on national television earlier today following months of political turmoil. The newly formed Peace and Order Maintaining Command also ordered television and radio stations to halt normal programmes and only broadcast its material – the BBC, CNN and other international TV news networks have been blocked.

elections thailandThe cabinet has been told to report to the military, a 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. curfew for foreigners and citizens is now in place and it was announced that anyone in a group of five people or more would be arrested.There was no immediate sign of soldiers patrolling central Bangkok, but troops dispersed the two protest sites where competing groups were camped out – one backing the ousted government and one that had struggled for six months to unseat it.

Flanked by the heads of the armed forces, Prayuth said the coup was launched ‘to quickly bring the situation back to normal, to let the people have love and unity as in the past, and to reform the political and economic systems – and to grant equality to every side.’

An army spokesman later announced that it had dissolved the caretaker government and suspended the constitution but that the Senate would remain in place. US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was “no justification” for the military coup in Thailand. “This act will have negative implications for the US-Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military,” Kerry said in a statement. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was “seriously concerned” by the military takeover in Thailand.

In a statement, Ban appealed “for a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule and an all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity in Thailand.”

Locally in Samui there is fear for the future, with low season upon the island, and many cancelling their trips to the island that has so far been relatively unaffected by any of the countries instability, those whose businesses depend on tourism are wondering where this will all end. Even those whose businesses are not directly linked to tourism are fearing the worst as their income is largely derived from others who do depend on it.

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