Thai PM denies counter-coup rumours

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has denied rumours of a counter-coup by senior military officers on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has denied rumours of a counter-coup by senior military officers on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha denied rumours of a counter-coup by senior military officers on Tuesday and said foreigners were still confident in Thailand more than a year after he took power.

Former army chief Prayut took power in a May 2014 coup after months of sometimes violent street protests in Bangkok.

The country's police and military have arrested and threatened critics of the ruling junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, including student activists. Public demonstrations are banned.

Police said they were tracking down those behind a rumour that a group of senior military commanders were plotting to overthrow military government. Prayut dismissed the rumours as baseless.

"People want to create chaos. I ask, who would come out and hold a coup? This is just a fairytale," Prayut told reporters.

The 2014 coup ousted the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's first female prime minister and a scion of the Shinawatra political family.

Thailand has been bitterly divided for a decade between supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was himself ousted by the army in 2006, and the traditional establishment in the capital and the south.

On a number of occasions the military government has pushed back promised elections, dealing a blow to any hopes of a swift return to democracy. Last month it said polls would be held in September 2016.

Prayut said foreign confidence in Thailand was still high. "When I travel abroad all countries are satisfied with the situation in Thailand," he said following a visit to Singapore last week.

"Singaporean businessmen want to invest in Thailand ... it shows there is foreign confidence in Thailand."