Thai coup leader cements grip, assumes law-making power

Thai coup leader cements grip, assumes law-making power

BANGKOK - Thailand's military junta said Saturday it had disbanded the Senate and placed all law-making authority in the army chief's hands, 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.

Thailand's fragile democracy has been repeatedly stunted by 19 actual or attempted coups since 1932.

Analysts called Saturday's developments an ominous sign that the junta led by the army chief, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, could be digging in for a long-term, pervasive takeover, as it had earlier said the Senate would be retained.

Sporadic protests flared in Bangkok for a second straight day, with hundreds of demonstrators defying a ban on political gatherings to denounce the coup, echoing calls from Washington, the EU and elsewhere around the world for the restoration of civilian rule.

Prayut seized control Thursday after anti-government forces had waged a several-month campaign, marked by deadly Bangkok street protests, to oust Thailand's civilian leaders.

Civil liberties have been curbed, media restrictions imposed, most of the constitution abrogated, and rival protesters from both sides of the political divide cleared from the capital.

King 'acknowledges' coup

Political analysts view the coup as part of a long-running effort by a Bangkok-based power elite - aligned with the monarchy and military - to eliminate the political dominance of Yingluck's elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra.

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