Junta figures and Yingluck among those absent at Independence Day celebrations

Independence Day celebrations yesterday got underway at the US Embassy in Bangkok with minimal participation of junta figures. However, personnel from the ousted government of Yingluck Shinawatra and red-shirt supporters were in attendance.

Though Yingluck was invited to the party, she chose not to attend out of fear that her presence could be politicised, her close aide said. Instead she went to the cremation of late former science and technology minister Phiraphan Phalusuk.

Yingluck's former PM's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva, former finance minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong and former transportation minister Chadchat Sittipunt showed up at the July 4 event.

Core red-shirt leaders such as Chaturon Chaisang, Veerakarn Musikapong and Prateep Ungsongtham Hata also attended.

However, nobody from the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was at the event, though PM's Office permanent secretary Panadda Diskul made an appearance.

Democrat Party figures were also conspicuously absent.

NCPO spokesman Colonel Weerachon Sukondhapatipak earlier confirmed that the US embassy did not invite any senior military officers to the celebration.

The embassy usually extends invitations to senior officials in government agencies, high-society figures and members of the diplomatic community.

The United States has consistently warned against military intervention in the political crisis prior to the coup.

Washington also cut US$4.7 million (Bt152.44 million) in military assistance to Thailand and cancelled many activities as well as joint exercises in response to the power seizure in May.

Other Western countries have also taken tough stance against the junta. The British embassy cancelled a reception to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday at a Bangkok hotel on June 11 to reflect its opposition to the coup.

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