Thailand has suspended plans to purchase 96 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from Ukraine for 4 billion baht (117.6 million dollars) after the deal ran into controversy, media reports said Saturday, according to DPA.

`Because problems have arisen, I must suspend it until we get a clarification,` Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas told The Nation newspaper. Members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) questioned Boonrawd about the purchase during a censure debate on Wednesday.

Questions have been raised about proper after-sale maintenance for the APCs and some experts have said the Ukrainian BTR-3EI model is unsuitable to the military`s needs because the armour is not thick enough to sustain a hit from a rocket-propelled grenade.

`They (the military) want goods that are high in quality but cheap in price,` noted military affairs expert Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University. `We should be moving towards more quality APCs even though the cost may be higher and the number less.`

The Ukrainian APCs purchase was supported by former Army Commander-in-Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin. Opposition to the purchase grew shortly after Sonthi retired as Army C-in-C on September 30. Sonthi, who led the coupof September 19, 2006, that toppled the government of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is now a deputy prime minister.

This news was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor.