EU Condemns Thai Military Coup, Demands Return of Democratic Government

The European Union on Wednesday condemned the coup in Thailand and demanded a return to a "democratically elected government."

"The presidency of the EU condemns the take over of power from the democratic government of Thailand by the Thai military forces," the EU said in a statement issued by Finland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the 25-member bloc.

"(The EU) demands that the military forces stand back and give way to the democratically elected political government," said the brief statement issued early Wednesday. Reporter's Notebook: Thai Crisis

The statement came after a bloodless coup in Thailand where the military leader who ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the move was necessary to heal mounting rifts in Thai society and stop the erosion of democratic institutions under Thaksin.

In the country's first coup in 15 years, Army Chief Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratklin led a rapid, well-orchestrated overthrow while Thaksin was in New York. Not a shot was fired during the night operation, which started late Tuesday.

Thaksin, who has been out of his country since Sept. 9, last week attended a summit of 38 Asian and EU leaders in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Finland took over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU in July. Reporter's Notebook: Thai Crisis