THAI coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday he had been formally endorsed by the king as head of a military council that will run the country.

And he warned he would use force if political protests flare up again. Prayuth seized power on May 22, saying the army would restore order after nearly seven months of sometimes deadly street demos.

The military has taken into custody scores of politicians, activists and others after ousting a government that had been led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Prayuth said in a statement: "You will have to forgive any tough measures as they are necessary."

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He did not set a timeframe for how long the army would stay in power, although he said he hoped to hold elections soon.

Yesterday Suthep Thaugsuban, a former pro-establishment politician who led protests that undermined Yingluck's government, was released on bail. He had been held since the coup. The army has also allowed Yingluck to go home, although she remains under military supervision.

Also yesterday hundreds of protesters shouted "we want elections" and "coup get out", others had signs with "we want democracy".