Thailand coup: Protests continue despite army warning

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas was caught up in a Bangkok street scuffle

Small anti-coup protests have continued in the Thai capital, Bangkok, despite a warning from the country's new military rulers.

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted "Get out" and marched through the streets.

Gatherings of more than five people were banned after the army seized power on Thursday.

Earlier, 18 newspaper editors were summoned by the military in its latest move to limit criticism and forestall opposition to its rule.

An army spokesman in Bangkok said normal democratic principles could not be applied at the current time.

Thai soldiers walk passed anti coup protesters during a planned gathering in Bangkok on 25 May 2014 Protesters defied a ban on large gatherings to denounce the coup
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At the scene: Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok

Much about this coup has been textbook predictable; the curfew and censorship, the stiff military pronouncements and martial music on our TV channels. And then there is the unexpected; nervous and well-armed soldiers surrounding a city-centre branch of McDonald's.

Inside, to the bewilderment of customers lining up for their lunch, a handful of protesters yelled their opposition to the coup through the glass doors. Outside, the soldiers took up positions. One of their trucks started blaring out patriotic songs to try to drown out the protesters.

More protesters arrived, confronting the troops, who seemed unsure what to do; they were blockading a fast-food restaurant that had several other entrances, and was not actually being targeted by anyone. One young soldier was close to tears, after demonstrators screamed in his face. It was brutally hot too.

This is not like the last coup. There is more anger, more tension. The protests have been small so far - just a few hundred people. But they could grow. And the military is jittery. The potential for more dangerous confrontations is real.

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Dozens of people, including prominent academics and activists, have been ordered to report to the military.

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, removed from power by the judiciary earlier this month, has been detained.

Earlier reports said she had been released. But the Associated Press quoted her aide as saying she had been moved but not freed.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who now leads a junta known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), dissolved the Senate on Saturday, the final remnant of the pre-coup legislature.

Outspoken columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk from The Nation newspaper was among those summoned on Sunday. "On my way to see the new dictator of Thailand. Hopefully the last," he tweeted.

Protesters and soldiers confront each other in Bangkok's shopping district May 25, 2014 Scuffles broke out as angry protesters confronted soldiers tasked with containing their rally
A teary-eyed soldier confronted by protesters Correspondents say some young troops showed the strain of confronting the anger of the protesters

Scuffles broke out with soldiers as anti-coup protesters gathered for a third day in defiance of the military's martial law.

"We have to continue protesting to show our opposition to the coup," one demonstrator told the Associated Press.

"We don't have leaders. We are against the coup and we come because we want to."

The army chief is due to receive royal endorsement on Monday. The ruling junta is then expected to set up a national legislative assembly which will draw up a temporary constitution with a new prime minister.

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Key coup conditions
  • Curfew nationwide from 22:00 to 05:00
  • Gen Prayuth to head ruling National Peace and Order Maintaining Council
  • Senate and courts to continue operating
  • 2007 constitution suspended except for chapter on monarchy
  • Political gatherings of more than five people banned, with penalties of up to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht ($300; £180) fine, or both
  • Social media platforms could be blocked if they carry material with provocative content
  • Media warned not to carry criticism of army operations

Press fearful after Thai coup

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Thailand's coup explained - in 60 seconds

There has been a power struggle since Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.

Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.

The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Ms Yingluck.

An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.

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