EU ministers set to take first punitive measures over Thai coup

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU foreign ministers are expected to call on Thailand's military rulers on Monday to restore democratic rule "urgently" as the bloc takes initial punitive measures against the coup leaders, an EU diplomat said.

Last month, the European Union said there had to be "a clear timetable" for fresh elections after the military ousted the Thai government and imposed martial law.

Ministers will "call on the military to restore urgently democratic government and respect human rights and freedoms," the EU diplomat said Thursday.

"It cannot be business as usual," the diplomat said ahead of Monday's meeting of all 28 foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Accordingly, ministers are expected to agree that official visits be suspended, that a partnership and cooperation accord not be signed and that member states review military cooperation with Bangkok.

The meeting will also "signal that there is more to come" if there is no response, said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Last week, the head of the military junta, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, said it would set up an interim government by September to oversee political reforms that will be followed by elections in about a year's time.

He gave few details of the process and insisted that Thailand needed a strong military to help steady the country which has been through many previous coups.