Thai military rulers appoint advisers; economy in doldrums

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Protesters against military rule face soldiers at the Victory monument in BangkokBangkok: 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 May 22 coup, and is expected to speed up efforts to get the economy moving again after months of debilitating political protests.

Data 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.