Thailand army continues crackdown after coup

Thailand’s military has ordered 35 more people, including prominent academics, to report to them by Saturday afternoon as the post-coup crackdown continues.

The move comes a day after the army ordered more than 100 politicians, including ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra, to come to the military council.

Ms Yingluck was detained in Bangkok on Friday and spent the night in custody.

Meanwhile, the US has suspended $3.5m (£2.1m) in military aid to Thailand and told the army to restore civilian rule.

Washington also urged tourists to cancel trips and halted non-essential visits by US government officials, following Thursday’s coup.

Officials said Ms Yingluck would not be held for more than a week but insisted that her detention was necessary while matters in the country were organised.

Ms Yingluck, who had been PM until being removed by the judiciary this month, was ordered to report to the military along with more than 100 other politicians, including acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.

Thai military spokesman Col Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said Saturday that the politicians were detained to give them “time to think”.

He refused to reveal where the detained were being held and said that their mobile phones had been confiscated.

Those listed on Friday who are yet to hand themselves into the military had until 16:00 local time (09:00 GMT) otherwise the “law enforcement will be decisive,” he added.

He said those named on the military’s new list had until 13:00 local time (06:00 GMT) to report to the army.

Col Werachon said the detainees were being encouraged “to find common ground” and that the army wanted “to change their perception.”

On Friday. army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha met key officials and told them that reform must come before any elections.

Gen Prayuth summoned governors, business leaders and civil servants to the Bangkok Army Club.

Six of Thailand’s most senior military officers have now been appointed to run the country, with provincial commanders supervising local government.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says that, unlike in previous coups, there have been no promises of a quick return to civilian rule.

Gen Prayuth told the meeting: “I want all civil servants to help organise the country. We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections.”

“If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people,” he added.

The United States led widespread international criticism of the coup, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying there was “no justification”.

The US State Department swiftly halted the $3.5 million (£2.1m) of military assistance in its overall aid to the country of $10.5 million (£6.2m).

But an official said the US would continue joint exercises currently taking place with the Thai military.

The US had contacted Thailand’s military leaders and urged “the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy and, obviously, respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty,” a State Department spokeswoman told reporters.

Thailand’s armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

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.