It appears a coup has been launched while the Thai prime minister is in the US to speak at the UN, which he’ll do tonight.
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — The Thai military launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday night, circling his offices with tanks, seizing control of TV stations and declaring a provisional authority pledging loyalty to the king.
An announcement on Thai television declared that a “Council of Administrative Reform” with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance.
At least 14 tanks surrounded Government House, Thaksin’s office. Thaksin was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly and declared a state of emergency.
Update: Fox News reports that the Thai prime minister is scheduled to speak at the UN tonight at 7:00pm.
Update II: More from the UK Timesonline:
There were reports that members of Mr Thaksin’s Government, including his Deputy Prime Minister, Chitchai Wannasathit, and Defence Minister, Thammarak Isaragurana Ayuthaya, had been arrested by the military, and submitted their resignations.
“The government is no longer administering the country,” said an army spokesman, Colonel Akara Chitroj. “I think Thaksin will not return to Thailand for the time being.”
But in New York, Mr Thaksin insisted that he remained Prime Minister. Thai spokesmen said that he remained calm and would address the General Assembly on the situation in Bangkok later today.
“Some of the military officials came out and tried to make a coup attempt but we confirmed they cannot succeed,” a government spokesman in New York, Surapong Suebwonglee, told Reuters. “Now we’re in control.”
But in central Bangkok, tanks with loud speakers and sirens have been rolling around the capital telling people to get off the streets.
Military and police involved in the apparent coup claim to have taken control of all six of the kingdom’s public television stations, as well as radio stations.
At least ten armoured vehicles were seen in central Bangkok and around 50 soldiers were reported to have arrived at Government House in the Thai capital, ordering police officers to hand over their weapons.