From Martial Law To Coup: Thai Army Seizes Power As It Takes Control Of The Government

Thailand's army chief has announced a coup d'etat, saying the military is taking control of government.

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After Imposing Martial Law, Thai Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha Launched A Coup On Thursday, Declaring That It Was "Necessary To Seize Power"

A television screenshot shows Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, making the announcement on Thursday.

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The head of the Thai Army, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, made the announcement on television flanked by senior military officers.

Political Officers Who Were Attending A Meeting Called By The Thai Military Had Been Detained

Thailand’s military has launched a coup three days after insisting its troops would not stage a full takeover.

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An army spokesperson told The Independent: "There was no agreement at the meeting and the coup has taken place." The military will be sending troops and vehicles to escort protesters away from rally sites, a senior army official told Reuters.

Prayuth Said The Coup Was Launched "In Order To Bring The Situation Back To Normal Quickly"

"In order for the country to return to normal quickly, the National Peace Keeping Committee comprised of the army, the Thai armed forces, the Royal Air Force and the police need to seize power as of May 22 at 4.30 pm," army chief Prayut Chan-Ocha said.

He said the takeover would not affect international relations. The move comes after Thailand’s military imposed martial law in the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday, in an attempt to restore order following months of protests. The coup, he said, was intended to “reform the political structure, the economy and the society.”

The Last Coup In Thailand Was In 2006 And Had Been Followed By More Than A Year Of Military Rule

Thai soldiers in Bangkok on Thursday.

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Thousands of protesters were on the streets when Mr. Prayuth made his announcement. “The national peacekeeping committee,” he said, referring to the military, “will worship and protect the monarchy.”

The Thai government has been paralyzed by protests for the last six months. Protesters have sought to eradicate the country’s most powerful political family, the Shinawatras. The country’s politics have been turbulent since 2006, when the military removed Thaksin Shinawatra, the patriarch of the family, who founded a populist movement that has won every election since 2001.

Thailand’s king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is 86 years old and ailing. He has been on the throne for more than 60 years.

Mr. Thaksin, whose power base was in the provinces, challenged the power of the Bangkok establishment, a conflict that has been one of the roots of eight years of political turmoil in the country.

Now What?

Prayuth did not mention anything about elections in his announcement. Elections in February were boycotted by the opposition and blocked by protesters. The coup announcement was made after the Thai stock market was closed.

The takeover will enrage Red Shirt supporters of the caretaker government that wanted to push ahead with fresh elections. Red Shirt leaders had vowed to rise up if the government that was elected in a landslide victory in 2011 was unconstitutionally deposed.

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