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Gen. Khanh Tightens Control over South Vietnam

Jan. 30, 1964 - Maj. Gen. Nguyen Khanh, who led the successful coup against the military junta ruling South Vietnam, tightened his control over the country today by breaking up the junta and having himself proclaimed chief of state. Following the brief but bloodless predawn coup, he told U.S. officials he had seized power to foil a threatening French plot to steer Vietnam toward neutralism. In a proclamation that was broadcast over the Saigon radio and signed by 17 generals and 32 other key military commanders, Khanh was named to replace Maj. Gen. Duong Van Minh as chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council. Minh was being kept under armed guard after sources said he had steadfastly refused Khanh’s demands that he remain as figurehead chief of state with the real power in Khanh’s hands.

Four other key members of the junta were reliably reported to have been arrested and flown to jails at Khanh’s regional command headquarters at Danang, about 400 miles north of Saigon. Sources said Khanh told American officials three were being charged with participation in a French-instigated plot and the fourth with misdeeds under the regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem, who was assassinated in the November coup. Nguyen Ngoc Tho was removed as Premier and put under house arrest. Sources said Khanh might also decide to serve as Premier.

Khanh met for an hour with U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge today. Sources said he assured Mr. Lodge that he would press the campaign against the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas and that there would be a minimum of disruption and reorganization as a result of the coup. After the meeting, Mr. Lodge said he had “expressed the hope that there will be no bloodshed” in the coup. He asserted that the “United States had nothing to do with the operation.”



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