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Police officers stand guard at a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 8, 2014. Thailand's junta prepared a force of over 6,000 troops and police for deployment in Bangkok on Sunday to smother protests and prevent opposition to the May 22 coup from gaining momentum. (ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/REUTERS)
Police officers stand guard at a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 8, 2014. Thailand's junta prepared a force of over 6,000 troops and police for deployment in Bangkok on Sunday to smother protests and prevent opposition to the May 22 coup from gaining momentum. (ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/REUTERS)

Thai junta steps up effort to win over human-rights groups over coup Add to ...

Thailand’s junta said on Monday it had ordered the Thai ambassadors to the United States and Britain to meet human-rights groups in an effort to “create understanding” about last month’s seizure of power.

Several Western governments have spoken out against the May 22 coup, calling for a speedy return to democracy. Rights groups have urged the ruling National Council for Peace and Order to curb its powers to detain and prosecute civilians.

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“The NCPO has ordered Thailand’s ambassadors in New York and London to meet representatives from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to create understanding,” Yongyuth Mayalarp, a spokesman for the NCPO, told reporters.

Representatives at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed they had been invited to meet the ambassadors. “We intend to listen to what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives have to say and, of course, we will also reiterate our serious concerns about the military’s actions since May 22,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters in an e-mail, adding that a meeting date had not yet been set.

PARTIES BANNED AS COUP LEADER AIMS AT RECONCILIATION

The NCPO ordered political parties on Monday to suspend activities. When the military scrapped the constitution after the coup it was unclear whether parties would continue to exist.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he took power to restore order after nearly seven months of political turmoil in the polarized country. He has launched a reconciliation campaign aimed at healing divisions. Prayuth is due to meet foreign diplomats on Wednesday to brief them on the military’s plans.

The coup was the latest chapter in a power struggle between the Bangkok-based royalist establishment and supporters of ousted former populist premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose stronghold is in the rural north and northeast. Thaksin’s removal in a 2006 coup did nothing to heal the divide and the military now appears intent on finishing what it started then, shuffling senior civil servants and military personnel to blunt the power of Thaksin loyalists.

The ousted government was headed by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, until she was ordered to step down on May 7 after a court found her guilty of abuse of power.

MISS UNIVERSE THAILAND QUITS OVER ‘RED SHIRT’ REMARKS

On Monday, Miss Universe Thailand renounced her title over remarks she made on social media including one that “red shirt” activists, supporters of the ousted Thai government, should all be executed.

Weluree Ditsayabut, 22, was crowned Miss Universe Thailand last month but comments she made months earlier soon surfaced, including one on her Facebook account, referring to the red shirts, which said: “I am so angry at all these evil activists. They should all be executed.”

A tearful Weluree told reporters that she could not handle the vitriol directed at her on Twitter and Facebook. “I felt under pressure. I tried to improve myself but what I could not stand was to see my mother stressed,” Weluree said. “I have decided to sacrifice my status as Miss Universe Thailand.”

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