Law violators face tough action, warns Thai army chief

Law violators face tough action, warns Thai army chief
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, flanked by other members of the National Council for Peace and Order, holds his first press conference following last week.

THAILAND - 'Election when situation is right; reforms in all aspects that are causing conflict'

Junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday threatened tougher action against law violators, particularly opponents of the military's power seizure, in a move that is in line with the junta's priority of maintaining law and order.

Prayuth, however, did not answer a reporter's question as to whether he would become interim prime minister.

"It's not time yet [to discuss this]. There is a plan already for that. Be patient. There will definitely be a prime minister," Prayuth said, adding that there would also be new Cabinet members.

He said the next election would be held "as soon as possible, when the situation permits" although he could not say when as it would depend on the situation.

Speaking at his first press conference since last Thursday's power seizure, Prayuth said the junta would enact political reforms and focus on solving the country's problems, starting with making overdue payments to rice farmers under the previous government's rice price-pledging scheme. "We will set up new organisations to reform every aspect that causes problems and conflicts," he told the press conference."

He said he would name an interim prime minister and a legislative council to implement electoral reforms and measures aimed at bolstering the economy.

Earlier yesterday, Prayuth and other members of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took part in a ceremony to receive a royal command endorsing him as head of the NCPO.

Prayuth said that to maintain peace and order there would be "a more intense enforcement of the law" against resistance.

"If the situation improves, the different measures will be eased. Do not worry. We don't want to cause problems for you," he said. "We will focus on law violators, use of war weapons, resistance or any action that disrupts peace in the country."

He said a curfew would remain in place from 10pm to 5am, as it was still needed, although people affected could inform the relevant authorities about their problems.

On Sunday, in a stern move to tighten security, the NCPO announced that any offences against the monarchy and national security, as well as violations of its orders, would be tried in a military court.

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