NCPO unfazed by US, Aust moves

The National Council for Peace and Order is unconcerned by the latest anti-coup reaction from the United States and Australia, a deputy army spokesman said Sunday, but it would not ignore their moves and would continue to create a better understanding of the May 22 takeover.

Col Weerachon Sukondhapatipak made the comment after US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday demanded the NCPO hold immediate elections and said Washington had suspended its long-standing military ties with Thailand. The US is one of 19 countries that have warned their citizens to avoid travelling to Thailand unless necessary.

Australia's foreign minister on Saturday also said Canberra had reduced its "engagement" with the Thai military and will prevent coup leaders from visiting.

Col Weerachon said the Thai military understood the moves by its allies and was trying to use all means available to explain why the coup was necessary so that they could relax their restraints. 

“Thailand has, relatively, a lot of military cooperation with the US and Australia,” Col Weerachon said. “But everyone must understand that they are attached to their parliaments. After [the coup] took place, their parliaments convened to review bilateral aid” and cooperation. 

“Thai-US military ties go back 180 years and more than 60 years between the Thai and Australian armed forces," he said. 

“The Thai military hopes foreign governments will understand and review their [anti-coup] measures in spite of their current downgrading of cooperation.” 

Meanwhile, the American University Alumni Association (AUAA) slammed Washington for criticising the NCPO’s road map and pressuring the junta to immediately hold elections. 

AUAA president Khunying Songsuda Yodmani warned the US government should not make any statements that interfere with Thailand’s internal affairs to avoid undermining the two countries’ relationship. It must respect and treat its long-time ally with equal status, not as a colonised nation, she added.

Dr Suvit Yodmani, an AUAA board member and former tourism and sports minister, said the US secretary of state’s previous statements on the May 22 coup showed a lack of understanding of Thailand’s internal problems or incomplete information regarding the issues. 

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