Coup rumour slammed as groundless

Coup rumour slammed as groundless

The army spokesman on Saturday rejected a rumour about a counter-coup being plotted against the military regime.

Col Winthai Suwaree also dismissed talk that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had invoked his special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter to sack army chief Udomdej Sitabutr, who is deputy defence minister.

Col Winthai said the rumours had gone viral on social media, but were groundless. They could be the work of people trying to create a public disturbance.

Col Winthai said the unity of the armed forces remains rock solid. All military units are working closely together to support the policies of the government and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

He urged the public to take care with information on social media.

The army spokesman said NCPO order No.3/2015 governing firearms remains in force and a circular has been sent to provincial governors reminding them to comply with it.

Interior Ministry officials are investigating the disappearance of 75 M16 assault rifles from a defence volunteer arsenal in Nakhon Ratchasima in 2011, Col Winthai said.

Police are expected to charge four defence volunteers with stealing the rifles.

Investigators discovered the suspects had withdrawn 75 of the arsenal's 84 assault rifles from a store at the 1st Volunteer Defence Company base in Nakhon Ratchasima, Pol Col Somsak Roekphutthi, chief of Jor Hor police station in Muang Nakhon Ratchasima district, has said.

They had made a verbal request to remove the weapons and did not record it. The rifles have since not been returned, Pol Col Somsak said. Only nine rifles remain at the company base in the compound of Nakhon Ratchasima provincial hall.

When evidence is complete, police will summon the four to acknowledge theft charges, he said. The suspects were not named.

The NCPO chief said soldiers, defence volunteers and state officials authorised to keep firearms are prohibited from moving weapons unless ordered to.

If they want to move firearms, they are required to submit their requests to the commanders of army regions at least 15 days in advance so that the NCPO chief has time to consider them.

Col Winthai said commentary about enforcement of the NCPO order had nothing to do with a rumour about the counter coup.

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