Friday 19 December 2014

Thailand military seizes power

Published 22/05/2014 | 11:55

Thai soldiers stand guard at the gate to the army club in Bangkok (AP)
Thai soldiers stand guard at the gate to the army club in Bangkok (AP)
Pro-government "red shirt" protest leader Jatuporn Prompan. Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom
Thai soldiers prepare to deploy around the Army Club in Bangkok. Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests which have left the country without a functioning government.The declaration did not constitute a coup and was made in response to deteriorating security, an army general said. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Passers-by have their photograph taken with a Thai soldier in Bangkok. AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn
A Thai woman take pictures with Thai soldiers stationed outside the Thai police headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's army declared martial law before dawn Tuesday in a surprise announcement it said was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai soldiers man a checkpoint near pro-government "red shirt" supporters encampment in suburbs of Bangkok. Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but denied that the surprise move amounted to a military coup. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Thai soldiers walk inside a compound of the Army Club after the army declared martial law nationwide to restore order, in Bangkok . Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but insisted the surprise intervention was not a military coup. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
A Thai soldier mans a machine gun as his unit takes position in central Bangkok. Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but insisted the surprise intervention was not a military coup. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures during a news conference at The Army Club after the army declared martial law nationwide to restore order, in Bangkok. Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but denied that the surprise move amounted to a military coup. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Thailand's army chief has announced a military takeover of the government, saying the coup is necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.

Prayuth Chan-ocha announced in a statement broadcast on national television that the commission which imposed martial law on Tuesday would now take control of the country's administration.

"It is necessary for the Peace and Order Maintaining Command - which includes army, navy, armed forces and police - to take control of governing the country," Gen Prayuth said.

The development follows two days of army-mediated meetings between the country's rival political leaders that failed to break the impasse. The meetings were held at an army facility in Bangkok.

Shortly before the announcement was made, armed soldiers in military vehicles surrounded the building, apparently to block those inside from leaving.

Thailand has been gripped by bouts of political instability for more than seven years.

The latest round of unrest started in November, when demonstrators took to the streets to try to force PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down. They accused her of being a proxy for her popular billionaire brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence on a corruption conviction.

The latest coup is the 12th since the country's absolute monarchy ended in 1932.

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