Govt hurries to quash 'fake' S44 order, coup rumours

A convoy of armoured cars from Chon Buri, Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo provinces heads to Sara Buri province for military exercises. The banner attached to the vehicles states "for exercises". (Photo supplied)

Government leaders said on Monday that copies of a fake Section 44 order for the removal of the armed forces chiefs had been distributed on social media, along with a rumour of a new coup d'etat, by people intent on triggering disunity and disorder.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the order was fake and officials were investigating it. Those  responsible would prosecuted and punished, he said.

Under the false order he, as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), exercised his power under Section 44 of the interim constitution on Monday to transfer the chiefs of the army, the air force and the navy to positions of inspector at the Prime Minister's Office.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said there was no case to support the fake order.

Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanit, spokesman of the Defence Ministry, said Gen Prawit rejected the rumour of another coup. The armed forces and the government were united in working for the national and public interest.

"Gen Prawit ordered security authorities to monitor the situation and the transmission of fake information inviolation of the computer crime law. We are looking for the source of the fake information," Lt Gen Kongcheep said.

The rumour of another coup was aimed at causing disunity and misunderstanding, and people should view it carefully, he said.

Asked if the rumour came from a political group, Lt Gen Kongcheep said, "We are following up if there is  any connection with all parties. Any group doing this has ill intentions for the nation because this is an important year when there will be the coronation, Thailand is chairing Asean and there will be a general election."

Some forces and weapons had been moved for military exercises, not for a coup, Lt Gen Kongcheep said.

He also said that Gen Prawit had chaired a meeting of authorities responsible for security during coronation-related ceremonies, and ordered all governmental organisations to strictly ensure maximum security and honour for the monarch.

NCPO spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree said the fake Section 44 order was distributed via social media and aimed at creating misunderstanding and social disorder.

"It might have been organised especially to have an impact on national order during this important period for the country," he said.


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