Thai coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Monday that he has received the endorsement of King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of a ruling military council.
In a televised press briefing Monday, the general also said that he would have no choice but to use force if political protests flare up again. He said he aims for an election as soon as possible, but gave no timeframe for a vote.
Prayuth abruptly cut the news briefing short when a reporter asked a question.
The announcement came a day after military leaders warned protesters any further rallies against its coup will not be tolerated. The warning came after a series of clashes between soldiers and protesters across the country on Sunday.
Army officials said protesters would be arrested, jailed and tried in military court.
Prayuth\’s junta dissolved the kingdom\’s partly-elected Senate on Saturday, one day after he named himself prime minister. The army chief said the moves are necessary to restore public order and push through political reforms.
The coup has drawn international criticism. The U.S. Defense Department said it is canceling ongoing U.S. military exercises with Thailand, as well as planned visits by U.S. and Thai military and law enforcement officials.
Thailand has been wracked by six months of political disputes and sometimes violent demonstrations. A court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down earlier this month on charges of nepotism.
Her replacement, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who had taken over as prime minister on an acting basis, is reportedly in military custody. Yingluck was detained earlier but the army claims to have released her. There has been no confirmation that she has in fact been freed.
Thailand\’s army has staged 12 coups in the last 80 years.