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As Protests Continue, Former Thai PM Is Released

Anti-coup protesters hold placards during a gathering at the Victory Monument in Bangkok on Sunday.
Manan Vatsyayana
AFP/Getty Images
Anti-coup protesters hold placards during a gathering at the Victory Monument in Bangkok on Sunday.

Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been released by the military junta that now controls the country, The Wall Street Journaland CNN are reporting.

As we've reported, after the military took control of the country in a coup d'etat, they also detained former leaders and prominent academics, saying they wanted to give them "time to think."

The Journal reports that Yingluck is now being held under house arrest. The paper adds:

"Ms. Yingluck, the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, the telecommunications billionaire who ran Thailand until he was deposed in a military coup in 2006, was among many political figures ordered to surrender to Thailand's army chiefs after they seized power Thursday. A Thai court removed Ms. Yingluck from power earlier this month after it found her guilty of improperly removing a top civil servant, an act which her critics described as an over-reach of her political power.

"The verdict came after months of street protests against Ms. Yingluck's administration. Protesters accused her of acting as a puppet for her brother, who lives overseas to escape imprisonment on a corruption conviction which he says is politically motivated."

CNN reports that the military says Yingluck has freedom of movement. A close aide of Yingluck tells CNN, they don't believe "she has freedom of mobility and communication."

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that despite a ban on large demonstrations, small anti-coup protests continued in Bangkok.

One interesting sight: Protesters demonstrated inside a McDonald's, while soldiers stood outside.

The BBC reports:

"Inside, to the bewilderment of customers lining up for their lunch, a handful of protesters yelled their opposition to the coup through the glass doors. Outside, the soldiers took up positions. One of their trucks started blaring out patriotic songs to try to drown out the protesters.

"More protesters arrived, confronting the troops, who seemed unsure what to do; they were blockading a fast-food restaurant that had several other entrances, and was not actually being targeted by anyone. One young soldier was close to tears, after demonstrators screamed in his face. It was brutally hot too.

"This is not like the last coup. There is more anger, more tension. The protests have been small so far - just a few hundred people. But they could grow. And the military is jittery. The potential for more dangerous confrontations is real."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.