Thai army on Monday dismissed rumours of an imminent military coup to overthrow caretaker government, given unusual movement of troops, tanks and combat gear on the northern outskirts of Bangkok.
First Infantry Division Commander, Varah Boonyasit, a major-general, explained that a dozen battalion of troops, tanks, army vehicles and ammunition were being transported to the headquarters of the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok to prepare for a parade for January 18, the Thai Armed Forces Day.
He said the troops and tanks which will join in the annual parade are coming from the Second Infantry Division in Prachinburi province, the 31st Infantry Regiment in Lopburi province, the 21st Infantry Regiment in Chonburi province and the Cavalry Center in Saraburi province.
“This year’s parade will feature army vehicles in addition to the troops. Military attaches from varied embassies have been invited to view the ceremony which will be held in honour of Army Chief, Gen. Prayudh Chan-ocha and Supreme Commander, Gen. Tanasak Patimapakorn, who will retire at the end of September 2014,” he said.
Boonyasit stressed that such activity is no preparations for a military coup as is illogically being rumoured and urged members of the public not to entertain any fear.
The caretaker government, headed by the Premier, Yingluck Shinawatra, is still battling with a planned “Bangkok shutdown” by anti- government protesters led by former Deputy Premier, Suthep Thaugsuban and former Democrat Party legislators on January 13.
They planned to occupy major Bangkok intersections, cut off power and water supply at government premises as well as the residences of the caretaker cabinet ministers and paralyse road traffic, especially in downtown area.
Many analysts believe this is a bid to force the military’s hand and prevent voters from heading to polls slated for February 2.
Since the end of absolute monarchist rule in the 1930s, there have been 18 coups and 23 junta governments in Thailand.