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Thai military rulers appeal to media, US to undertand reasons for coup

Thai military rulers appeal to media, US to undertand reasons for coup

Thailand's military rulers on Friday urged foreign media to tone down what the leaders called unfair coverage of last week's coup, saying they were concerned by the international community's reaction and particularly want to respond to criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
One coup leader, Gen. Winai Phattiyakul, also asked CNN and other broadcasters to understand why parts of their coup-related broadcasts in Thailand have been censored since the Sept. 19 overthrow of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They were considering lifting media restrictions soon.
At a round-table with foreign journalists, Winai repeatedly said coup leaders intend to respect their self-imposed Oct. 4 deadline for installing a civilian prime minister.
He also reiterated that the military had intervened because intelligence showed the likelihood of imminent, violent clashes between Thaksin's supporters and opponents.
The discussion had a friendly tone, and included coup leaders' pleas for the outside world to accept what the military has termed a pro-democracy coup to oust an undemocratic, corrupt prime minister.
"There is some concern with the perception of the international community," said Winai, who had shed his uniform for a gray suit with a blue shirt and yellow tie.
"We are a bit concerned," Winai said. "Will the media allow us to succeed peacefully?"
When asked a follow-up question on whether he felt that foreign media reports could foment violence, he said, "Reports in the media are quite essential to the success of this transition period."
"I'm not saying all the media are opposing what's happening in Thailand," Winai said. "But you've got to be fair and look at the opinion of the Thai people."
Polls have shown Thais overwhelmingly support the coup.
Winai offered a response to U.S. Secretary of State Rice, who earlier this week called the coup a "U-turn," and said Thailand needs "to get a civilian government and they need to get to elections and get back on a democratic path very, very quickly."
Winai urged Rice to consider the "difficult situation we have been facing for several months," and defended the coup with an analogy.
"If you are driving a train and you see it may derail, or it may collide with the other train and will cause damage _ and of course will cost lots of lives of innocents _ I think it makes sense to either stop or make a sharp turn or U-turn in order to avoid tragedy," he said.
Later, an aide whispered in his ear and Winai said he'd meant to say "detour," not "U-turn."
The U.S. said Thursday it was suspending US$24 million (