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Thailand's coup leader says he receives royal endorsement as army warns protesters

  • Thai soldiers guard at the office of the Attorney General as anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and others were taken to hear insurrection charge in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, May 26, 2014. Thailand's ruling military council stiffened its warnings Sunday against protests over its takeover of power, with its patience apparently wearing thin over demonstrations that have been growing in size and boldness. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

    Thai soldiers guard at the office of the Attorney General as anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and others were taken to hear insurrection charge in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, May 26, 2014. Thailand's ruling military council stiffened its warnings Sunday against protests over its takeover of power, with its patience apparently wearing thin over demonstrations that have been growing in size and boldness. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)  (The Associated Press)

  • 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 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)  (The Associated Press)

  • 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)

    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)  (The Associated Press)

The leader of Thailand's military junta was officially endorsed by the king Monday and warned protesters, the media and the nation's political rivals to avoid inciting division because the country could face a return "to the old days."

Dressed in a crisp white military uniform, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha spoke at a news conference just after King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed him to run the country in a royal command that called for "reconciliation among the people" and was concerned about increasingly violent confrontations between the ousted government and dispersed demonstrators who had called repeatedly for the army to intervene.

Prayuth also justified the putsch that was declared last Thursday, saying he had to restore order after seven months of violent confrontations and political turmoil between the now-ousted government and demonstrators who had called repeatedly for the army to intervene.

"The most important thing right now is to keep peace and order in the country," Prayuth said. "When the conflict intensified, and there was the threat of violence, we had to act."

In sporadic violence since last November, 28 people have been killed and more than 800 injured in grenade attacks, gun fights and drive-by shootings.

"I am not here to argue with anyone. Our intentions are pure, and we will remain transparent ... everyone needs to help me," Prayuth said, before adding, "do not criticize, do not start problems. It's no use."

Since last week, 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 and journalists to report to military authorities. More than 200 — the majority considered opponents of the new regime — have been officially summoned so far in lists broadcast on radio and TV.

The fate of Yingluck, who surrendered herself Friday, and many others remains unclear. Some detainees have been released, and the military has said it expects to free most after about a week.

Prayuth said the media must "control your message. Anyone who posts on Facebook that incites, I consider that against the peace of the country"

"Do you really want to go back to the old days? Right now there are people coming out to protest. Do your really want to go back?" he asked. "If so, I will have to enforce the law."

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Associated Press writer Kay Johnson contributed to this report.