Tanks on outskirts of Bangkok spark coup fears

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Published on February 11, 2019 - Duration: 00:45s

Tanks on outskirts of Bangkok spark coup fears

Tanks were seen on the streets of Thailand on Sunday (February 10) just days after former leader Thaksin Shinawatra re-entered the political fray.

The military denied the tanks were on the streets as part of any crackdown.

Thaksin last week reportedly recruited Princess Ubolratana with a populist bid to become prime minister.

With the much-loved actress bidding to be the next PM, it could have allowed popular Shinawatra to return to his homeland and smashed the armyโ€™s five-year grip over the southeast Asia country.

Fears of a possible third military coup since 2006 - just weeks from a planned election on March 24 - were reignited again after tanks were said to have been deployed and army supremos were dispatched to Munich where the King lives.

The hashtag #ThaiCoup was trending on Twitter with young liberals fearing a crackdown.

Footage of the green military vehicles show them driving down a motorway on the outskirts of Bangkok - but army chiefs said it was just a ''training exercise.'

Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and expert in Thai politics, said that ''when the military starts publicly insisting that no coup is coming, this is often a sign that they are about to seize power again." Speaking of Thaksin's attempt to return to an active role in politics, MacGregor said: '''This was an extraordinary strategic blunder by Thaksin, who once again has wildly miscalculated, due to his eagerness to defeat his political enemies and return to Thailand.

''Thaksin and Ubolratana meet regularly when they are both in London, and the princess was also photographed with Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra at the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

''According to several sources, relations between Ubolratana and Vajiralongkorn cooled since the death of their father King Bhumibol in 2016.

''[The King] also berated her after the photographs from the World Cup with Thaksin and Yingluck circulated online.

''By taking it for granted that Ubolratana had to get Vajiralongkorn on board, and that nobody would dare block her standing for prime minister, Thaksin made a disastrous mistake.''

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