Martial Law Declared in Thailand
The Thailand military, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has declared martial law on Tuesday in what it claims is “not a coup” but an attempt to bring “peace and order” back to the southeast Asian country amid deep political divisions.
Troops have taken to the streets of Bangkok, shut down key television and radio stations, and asked demonstators on both sides of the political divide to refrain from demonstrating so that talks between the two sides can resume.
“The royal Thai army intends to bring back peace and order to the beloved country of every Thai as soon as possible,” said Prayuth in a statement to reporters in the capital. “We intend to see the situation resolved quickly.”
“We ask all sides to come and talk to find a way out for the country,” Prayuth added.
According to the The Bangkok Post, the general said the nation’s political crisis had reached a point where the military was compelled, citing its authority under the nation’s Martial Law Act, to “suppress armed elements and war weapons.”
As the Post reports:
And The Guardian‘s Francis Wade, reporting from Bangkok, adds:
The internal politics of Thailand remain complex for those who do not follow it regularly. And as Walden Bello explained in a post that appeared on Common Dreams earlier this year, the intricacies do not conform easily to characterizations along recognizable left/right or anti-/pro-democracy lines.
Writing in early February, one point that Bello did make was that the military—reluctant to engage in another coup against its government like the one in 2006—was at that point doing everything it could to stay above the fray as it pushed for a political settlement.
As of Tuesday, there appears to be a radical—if not wholly unexpected—shift in that position.
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