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Thai coup leaders dissolve Senate

The move strips away the last democratic institution in Thailand two days after the military seized power

Thailand's coup leaders on Saturday announced the dissolution of the country's Senate, with the military assuming all executive power in the country. The declaration, which was broadcast on television, stripped away the last democratic institution in the country two days after the military seized power.

The junta suspended the constitution and dissolved the lower house of Parliament on Thursday. It had left the Senate in place, presumably in hopes the upper house might later approve some of its measures and provide a vestige of democracy. The reason for Saturday's about-face was not known.

The military says it took power to prevent more turmoil in Thailand's protracted political deadlock, which pits supporters of the elected populist government against establishment-backed protesters who accuse the deposed government of corruption.

It's the country's 12th coup in eight decades.

The former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and scores of other politicians from both sides of the divide were taken into custody on Friday. An aide for Yingluck told reporters on Saturday that she was in a "safe place."

"She has not been detained in any military camp. That's all I can say at this moment," the aide said, declining to be identified.

A source from her Puea Thai Party said Yingluck was not absolutely free because soldiers were monitoring her.

The army's deputy spokesman, Winthai Suvaree, said that anyone being held would not be detained for more than seven days. He did not mention Yingluck.

Yingluck was removed from office on May 7 after the country's constitutional court found her guilty of violating the constitution.

Yingluck and her political party remain popular among the country's poor majority, particularly in the north and northeast. But she is despised by Bangkok's middle and upper classes, who accuse her of being a puppet of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister and highly polarizing figure.

The campaign against Yingluck has been the latest chapter in Thailand's political upheaval that began when Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup after protests accusing him of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Since then, Thaksin's supporters and opponents have engaged in a power struggle that has on occasion turned bloody.

Wire services

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