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Thai junta appoint anti-Thaksin advisers

The military also relaxed a night-time curfew brought in after it seized power in a 22 May coup.

FILE: Thailand's junta has appointed two retired generals with palace connections as advisers. Picture: AFP.

BANGKOK - Thailand's junta has appointed two retired generals with palace connections as advisers, putting powerful establishment figures hostile towards former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra firmly in the ascendant in the country's long-running power struggle.

Hoping to show things are getting back to normal, the military also relaxed a night-time curfew brought in after it seized power in a 22 May coup, and is expected to speed up efforts to get the economy moving again after months of debilitating political protests.

Data on Wednesday showed trade shrank in April and factory output fell for a 13th straight month, underscoring the damage political unrest has caused and the tough job the military government faces reviving an economy on the brink of recession.

The Information Technology Ministry said it had blocked Facebook at the request of the military to stem protests. But the site was back up after about 30 minutes and the military denied involvement, saying a technical problem was to blame.

The military has issued warnings about the spread of what it considers provocative material on social media.

The junta's team of advisers includes a former defence minister, General Prawit Wongsuwan, and former army chief General Anupong Paochinda.

The two men are towering figures in Thailand's military establishment and have close ties to coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha. All three are staunch monarchists and helped oust Thaksin, who remains at the heart of the political crisis, in a 2006 coup.

A Reuters report in December revealed that Prawit and Anupong had secretly backed the anti-government protests that undermined the government of Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. She was removed by a court on 7 May for abuse of power and the coup ousted remaining ministers two weeks later.

It is not clear what powers the advisers will have, but their appointment would suggest little prospect of compromise with the Shinawatras.