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Warring parties detained ‘to think’

Thailand’s army is detaining former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, cabinet members and anti-government protest leaders for up to a week to give them “time to think”.

Deputy army spokesman Colonel Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said Ms Yingluck and dozens of other political figures had their phones confiscated. He would not reveal their location.

The move appears to be aimed at preventing any political leaders from contacting supporters to rally them against the coup.

The military seized power on Thursday after two days of peace talks in which neither political faction would agree to step aside.

The junta says it acted to prevent more turmoil after months of sometimes violent street protests and deadlock between the elected government and protesters supported by Thailand’s elite establishment.

Ms Yingluck and dozens of other political figures have been held in a secret location and without outside contact since they turned themselves in for a meeting with the military council in charge of the country.

Col Weerachon said all the political leaders were being well treated and that the aim of the military was to achieve a political compromise.

“This is in a bid for everybody who is involved in the conflict to calm down and have time to think,” he said. “We don’t intend to limit their freedom but it is to relieve the pressure.”

The anti-government protesters have blocked streets in Bangkok for months demanding that the government step down over allegations of corruption and ties to Ms Yingluck’s brother, exiled ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was himself deposed in a 2006 military coup.

Parties affiliated with Ms Yingluck and her brother have won every election since 2001 in Thailand.

It was unclear exactly how many political leaders were being detained by the army.

Among the officials who showed up at an army compound in Bangkok yesterday were Ms Yingluck, who was removed from office by a court earlier this month on nepotism charges, and her temporary replacement, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, according to Ms Yingluck’s aide Wim Rungwattanachinda.

Several cabinet members as well as leaders of the anti-government protests have been held since Thursday’s coup.

Education minister Chaturon Chaisang, an outspoken critic of the military’s intervention in politics, remained in hiding.

Mr Chaturon said in a Facebook post that the coup would only worsen the country’s political atmosphere and vowed not to turn himself in, but said he would not resist arrest.

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