PH asks authorities to restore civilian authority in Thailand

Posted at 05/25/14 12:14 PM

MANILA - The Philippines hopes Thailand authorities will remain committed to respecting democratic principles amid continuous protests over the military coup.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “As a friend and fellow ASEAN member, the Philippines hopes the Thai people will be able to resolve this latest political challenge peacefully through dialogue and in the spirit of national harmony.”

The department said it also hopes “present authorities will honor their commitment to respect democratic principles and human rights at all times and will restore civilian authority.”

Thailand's military junta said Saturday it had disbanded the Senate and placed all law-making authority in the hands of the army chief, dramatically tightening its grip after a coup that has sparked Bangkok protests and drawn international condemnation.

The regime also confirmed it had detained former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and scores of other ousted government leaders and would hold them for up to a week as it corralled potential opponents to its takeover.

"The Senate is dismissed. Responsibility for any laws needing the approval of the parliament or Senate will instead be assumed by the leader of the (junta)," said an army bulletin on national television.

Late Saturday, the Pentagon cancelled an ongoing military exercise as well as planned visits by officials to the country.

"While we have enjoyed a long and productive military-to-military relationship with Thailand, our own democratic principles and US law require us to reconsider US military assistance and engagements," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

The cancellations came after Washington, which has led criticism of the coup, suspended $3.5 million (2.6 million euro) in military assistance to its ally -- about one-third of its Thai aid.
Thailand's fragile democracy has been repeatedly stunted by 19 actual or attempted coups since 1932. – with Agence France-Presse