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US says Thai coup unjustified, will review relations

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Wednesday September 20, 2006

Washington- The United States said Wednesday it was "extremely disappointed" with the coup that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and would begin reviewing its relationship with the Southeast Asian country. US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey, however, stopped short of saying Thaksin should be restored to power, calling on the military to quickly hold elections so the Thai people can determine their leadership.

"There's no justification for a military coup in Thailand or in anyplace else," Casey said. "And we certainly are extremely disappointed by this action. It's a step backward for democracy in Thailand."

The United States wanted the Thai military to live up to its promise to hold elections as soon as possible, Casey said.

"We very much urge that democratic elections be held as soon as possible, which is a commitment military officials have made. That commitment needs to be met, and it needs to be respected," Casey said.

US officials were in contact with a "broad variety of individuals" in the country and the coup has forced the United States to re- evaluate relations between the traditional allies, Casey said.

"There are also consequences when these kinds of actions take place," Casey said without offering specifics. "And obviously, in light of what's happened, in light of this coup, there are aspects of our relationship that we're going to have to review."

Thai military tanks rolled into Bangkok on Tuesday evening and the Army's chief commander, Sonthi Boonyaratklin, claimed power and said he would serve as acting prime minister until civilian leadership could take control.

The coup was staged while Thaksin was in New York attending the UN General Assembly. He has since flown to London, where he is believed to own a house.

Thailand's popular king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has endorsed Sonthi and the coup. Sonthi has pledged to hand over power to an appointed civilian government within two weeks and set a timeframe of October 2007 for holding general elections.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur