Army: Coup Was To Avoid Failed State Scenario (DPA)

BANGKOK — Thailand's military staged last week's coup to prevent the nation becoming a failed state, the army said Thursday.

The army was forced to step in because of the worsening political situation, deputy chief of staff, Lieutenant General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh, told reporters.

"No side could see eye to eye. We found weapons caches belonging to political groups. The army is not willing to let this nation become a failed state like Syria or Libya," Chatchalerm said.

The general said Thailand was not in a state to survive more political turmoil.

Thailand's economy contracted in the first quarter of 2014, something that had not happened in years.

Exports had fallen to a two-year low and industrial output had slowed, according to reports in the Bangkok Post.

Chatchalerm said the army was only willing to return to civilian rule when the political climate allowed such a transition.

"We have nothing to gain from this coup. We are sacrificing ourselves for the nation. If we don't succeed, we will go to jail. Treason is punishable by death," he said.

The army seized power last week after seven months of anti-government protests that led to violence and a political stalemate.

Rights groups have been quick to protest the junta's detention of key dissidents and its censorship of the media, something the army says is needed to calm political tensions.