American officials offered across-the-board condemnation Thursday of what they quickly called a coup in Thailand after the Thai military suspended the constitution and took over the government earlier in the day.
“I am disappointed by the decision of the Thai military to suspend the constitution and take control of the government after a long period of political turmoil, and there is no justification for this military coup,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Thursday. “I am concerned by reports that senior political leaders of Thailand’s major parties have been detained and call for their release. I am also concerned that media outlets have been shut down.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that “the U.S. urges the restoration of civilian government immediately.”
The coup followed six months of political turmoil that has led to at least 28 deaths and 700 injuries. Martial law was declared in Thailand on Tuesday in a failed effort to quell unrest.
In a stark contrast to its handling of the military takeover in Egypt earlier this year, the U.S. government swiftly ruled the Thai action a coup, beginning a review of U.S. aid to Thailand. At least $10 million in American funding may be withdrawn under federal laws that prohibit American aid to countries where democratic governments have been overthrown. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki wouldn’t elaborate on why the U.S. government did not rule the Egyptian takeover a coup after weeks of review but could make the Thailand decision within hours of the takeover.
“While we value our long friendship with the Thai people, this act will have negative implications for the U.S.–Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military,” Kerry added in his statement. “We are reviewing our military and other assistance and engagements, consistent with U.S. law.”