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Thailand's democracy remains in question after military coup

It's been more than a month since the Thai military took power in a coup on May 22. While martial law remains in effect, the military government continues to detain those that they believe oppose their rule.

BANGKOK: It's been more than a month since the Thai military took power in a coup on May 22.

While martial law remains in effect, the military government continues to detain those that they believe oppose their rule.

Among them were hundreds of politicians and critics who were detained.

While many of them have been released, the military government has banned protests to prevent further dissent.

Analysts fear such moves could harm Thailand's democracy in the long term.

Kan Yuenyong, Director of Siam Intelligence Unit, said: "In the long run, a lot of people still have some frustration inside... underneath, they are quite afraid to view their ideas out to the public because they are afraid that they will be called up by the military. I think this is not healthy for democracy."

The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has promised to set up an interim government by September.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha says this is part of a three-phase plan.

He wants all parties to work for national reconciliation, the formation of a government and subsequently elections.

Dr Niran Pitakwatchara, Commissioner of National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, said: "The human rights commission will follow closely and act as mediator between the NCPO and how they use their power over the public. We will have to produce guidelines on how they can move forward and this will be how Thailand can return to normalcy."

A nationwide Dusit poll has shown the Thai military's approval rating at a surprising high of 8.82 out of 10.

That's with regards to their performance and the reduction of the threat of violence across the country.

Dr Niran said: "The poll that came out showing support for the military is not unusual for Thai society. It is normal for any society that recognises that a certain group is solving their problems and removing them from dangerous situations."

But small groups of protesters continue to defy the military rule.

Countries critical of Thailand's military government, such as the United States and European Union, have cut aid and suspended trade talks with the kingdom.

The long-term consequences of the military government's actions are still uncertain.

But if the government truly wants to move towards a functioning democracy, it will need to listen to all sections of Thai society and work on ending this martial law. 

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