Thai Coup Follows Schism Between Leader, Elite

Many people in Thailand, especially urban intellectuals, will not be upset by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's removal from power. Many of the country's elites have a deep dislike for Shinawatra, whom they view as corrupt.

The embattled leader came to power on a populist platform after making a fortune in the telecommunications industry.

The military leaders who engineered the coup released a statement Tuesday, in which they complained about "extensive corruption" and said that "the dignity of the Thai people's king was affected."

The removal of Shinawatra from power ends 15 years of continuous democratic rule in Thailand.

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Danny Unger, professor of political science at Northern Illinois University and an expert on Thai politics. He returned a month ago from a year in Bangkok.

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