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By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Paul Mooney

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday he had been formally endorsed by the king as head of a military council that will run the country, and warned he would use force if political protests flare up discount michael kors bags again.

Prayuth seized power on May 22, saying the army would restore order after nearly seven months of sometimes deadly street demonstrations. The military has taken into custody scores of politicians, activists and others.

Will we go back to where we were before? If you want to do that, I will need to use force and impose the law strictly, Prayuth said in a statement he read on television. You will have to forgive any tough measures as they are necessary.

He did not set a timeframe for how long the army would stay in power, although he said he hoped to hold elections soon.

The royal endorsement is a significant formality in Thailand, where the monarchy is the most important institution.

But Prayuth s address would have provoked conflicting reaction in a country polarized by nearly a decade of rivalry between the royalist establishment, of which Prayuth is a member, and Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist tycoon who broke the political mould.

Prayuth, wearing a formal white dress uniform, michael kors sale said he would set up a council of advisers but gave no details on the form of a government that will run the country under his military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order.

The country needs a prime minister, he said.

The military ousted the remnants of a government that had been led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin s sister, until she was removed by a court on May 7 for abuse of power. Thaksin was ousted as premier in a 2006 coup.

The military has taken over with a heavy hand, throwing out the constitution, dissolving the Senate and censoring the media. Anyone who insults the monarchy or violates the military s orders will be tried in a military court.

Despite warnings, small crowds of people voicing opposition to the coup have been gathering daily in Bangkok since the takeover, as well as in the north and northeast, strongholds of the ousted government. There have been no serious clashes.

On Monday, several hundred people gathered at Bangkok s Victory Monument where about 1,000 protesters massed on Sunday.

Some shouted we want elections and coup get out , others held up signs saying we want democracy , a Reuters reporter said.

Police and soldiers turned in force to block the protesters and there was jeering and some scuffles but no serious trouble. michael kors outlet Soldiers in a van with a loudspeaker urged people not to join the protesters, saying they were being paid, and blamed foreign media for trying to damage the country.

While the protests are a nuisance for the army, a more serious threat would be armed resistance from Thaksin s red shirt loyalists. They have always threatened to fight a coup but with so many of their leaders detained or in hiding, activists say they have no plan for opposition.

Authorities seized weapons and detained activists in the northeast last week. On Monday, an army ranger was killed in Trat province, near the Cambodian border, in a clash with suspected pro-Thaksin gunmen during a search, the army said.

YINGLUCK ALLOWED HOME

Earlier on Monday, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former pro-establishment politician who led protests that undermined Yingluck s government, was released on bail, his lawyer said. He had been held since the coup.

The army has also allowed Yingluck to go home, although she remains under military supervision with soldiers guarding her residence, a military official said on Sunday.

But the easing of restrictions on Yingluck will do little to dispel concern among her supporters that the military is intent on a crackdown for reasons other michael kors handbags outlet than simply restoring order.

Thaksin, seen as the real power behind his sister s government, was ousted in 2006 after his big-spending policies had won him the passionate support of the poor but the animosity of the establishment, who saw him as a corrupt, authoritarian opportunist and a threat to the old
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