|Thai minister condemns coup
A Cabinet minister who defied an order to report to Thailand's new military junta emerged Thursday from hiding for the first time since last week's coup to publicly condemn the takeover.
Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang's comments are the first in public made by any member of the ousted government, most of which is being held by the junta which controls the Southeast Asian nation.
"A coup d'etat is not a solution to the problems of conflict in Thai society,'' said Chaturon, who is has so far defied an army summons and remained free. "But it will make the conflict even worse, and ... it may lead to violence.''
"A coup d'etat is unacceptable, it is an abrogation of democracy.''
Chaturon, an outspoken critic of the military's intervention, spoke to the media at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in Bangkok. Chaturon said he would not resist arrest or go underground, but "I still insist to use my own rights and liberty to call for returning the country to democracy.''
Thursday's coup, Thailand's second in eight years, deposed an elected government that had insisted for months that the nation's fragile democracy was under attack from protesters, the courts, and finally the army.
The country is deeply split between an elite establishment based in Bangkok and the south that cannot win elections on one side, and a poorer majority centered in the north that has begun to realize political and economic power on the other. --AP