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Thai coup leader to receive royal endorsement

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An anti-coup protester cries as she asks a Thai soldier to go away during a demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 25, 2014. The top general in Thailand’s ruling junta warned people Sunday not to join anti-coup street protests, saying normal democratic principles cannot be applied at the time, as troops fanned out in central Bangkok to prevent rallies.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

An anti-coup protester cries as she asks a Thai soldier to go away during a demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 25, 2014. The top general in Thailand’s ruling junta warned people Sunday not to join anti-coup street protests, saying normal democratic principles cannot be applied at the time, as troops fanned out in central Bangkok to prevent rallies.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

An anti-coup protester cries as she asks a Thai soldier to go away during a demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 25, 2014. The top general in Thailand’s ruling junta warned people Sunday not to join anti-coup street protests, saying normal democratic principles cannot be applied at the time, as troops fanned out in central Bangkok to prevent rallies.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Protesters walk durng an anti-coup demonstration in front of line of Thai soldiers in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, May 25, 2014. A spokesman for Thailand’s coup leaders said Sunday that democracy had caused “losses” for the country, as the junta sought to combat growing international condemnation and hundreds of protesters angrily confronted soldiers in central Bangkok. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Protesters, right, scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration outside a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, May 25, 2014. A spokesman for Thailand’s coup leaders said Sunday that democracy had caused “losses” for the country, as the junta sought to combat growing international condemnation and hundreds of protesters angrily confronted soldiers in central Bangkok. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Pravit Rojanaphruk, an outspoken Thai columnist for the English-language daily The Nation, poses for a photograph while being called to report himself to the ruling military along with other journalists in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, May 25, 2014. A spokesman for Thailand’s coup leaders said Sunday that democracy had caused “losses” for the country, as the junta sought to combat growing international condemnation and hundreds of protesters angrily confronted soldiers in central Bangkok. (AP Photo)

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BANGKOK (AP) — One day after Thailand’s military junta stiffened warnings to crackdown on civilian opposition to its takeover of power, the country’s monarchy was set Monday to officially endorse the general who staged the coup.

Army Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha was expected to receive the endorsement formalizing his status as head of government at the army headquarters in Bangkok. It was not known whether King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest serving monarch, would attend the ceremony. The 86-year-old king’s health is fragile.

After that, it’s anticipated Prayuth may announce plans for reshaping Thailand’s political scene with an interim constitution to replace the one scrapped by the army after Thursday’s coup, and an appointed legislative body.

The army’s plans for reform before elections mirror those of ex-lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, who led seven months of demonstrations against the government.

Suthep, who had been detained by the junta since the coup was announced last Thursday, left a military detention center Monday and later appeared at the attorney general’s office escorted by police and soldiers. He faces insurrection charges for seizing government ministries and other infractions during his protest bid.

After three days of tense but mostly nonviolent confrontations between protesters and security forces, a spokesman for the ruling National Council for Peace and Order warned that officials may need to strictly enforce an army-imposed law that prohibits people from demonstrating against the coup.

Hinting that the army was ready to cast off restraint, Col. Winthai Suvaree said that in case of clashes in which losses or injuries incur, no compensation can be claimed because the country is under martial law.

“I want fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to warn their families that there is no benefit in coming out to oppose (the coup),” Winthai told reporters.

On Sunday, protesters against the coup appeared to number as many as 2,000, growing from a few hundred on Friday.

Publicity-savvy protesters first confronted police and soldiers outside a McDonald’s restaurant on Sunday, a spot chosen because it was the center of a failed and bloody two-month anti-government protest in 2010 by many of the same people. That uprising by the so-called Red Shirts — whose allies took power in elections in 2011 and held it until deposed in last week’s coup — left more than 90 people dead and well over 1,000 injured.

Troops who fanned out Sunday across one of central Bangkok’s major shopping districts were met by a crowd of about 1,000 people, who shouted, “Get out, get out, get out!”

Tensions ran high, and at one point a group of soldiers was chased away by the crowds. By late afternoon, the protesters had moved to Victory Monument, a city landmark a few kilometers (miles) away, with their numbers swelling to around 2,000. Rows of soldiers were gathered, but did not try to break up the rally, which ended peacefully.

The army faces a dilemma in engaging the protesters: whether to try to crush them and risk an even angrier reaction and international opprobrium, or to tolerate them and risk emboldening them.

“Please understand that everyone is carrying out their duties to make the country peaceful,” Winthai said. “Thus, we are asking the general public to warn against and try to stop such (protest) acts from those groups of people, in order to provide safety to both the people and the officers and to bring peace to the country.”

The military has sought to limit the protests by detaining figures who might play leadership roles. The junta has defended the detentions of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, most of the deposed government’s Cabinet, and dozens of politicians and activists.

It also has ordered dozens of outspoken activists, academics

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