Military imposes Martial Law in Thailand
The Thai military have declared martial law across the whole of Thailand and have set up road blocks and put tanks on the street across Bangkok and other major cities in the country. Reports suggest that the government was not informed.
The military have stressed that this is not a coup d’état, there have been eleven coups by the military with the most recent in 2006, and say that people should go about their business as normal. The most recent coup in 2006 saw General Sonthi Boonyaratglin overthrow the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the time tanks were deployed on the streets and broadcast media were closed down.
The Nation newspaper reports that yesterday at least ten cable and satellite TV stations were ordered to stop broadcasting pending further notice. A pro-government rally has been surrounded by troops today and has been ordered to disperse.
Yesterday the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) announced that GDP in the first quarter contracted by 0.6% year on year and 2.1% from the previous quarter. The forecast for growth this year has been revised down from 3/4% to 1.5/2.5%. The announcement comes after months of anti-government unrest which saw the 2nd February general election annulled and the departure of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last week. A fresh general election is supposed to take place on 20th July.
The formal announcement of martial law as published on the Government Public Relations Department website is as follows:
“Martial Law Has Been Announced (20/05/2014)
Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, has declared martial law covering the whole country as of 03:00 a.m. on 20 May 2014 onwards.
General Prayut stated that the declaration was meant to prevent violence and return peace and order to the country.
There are demonstrations of groups of people in Bangkok and nearby provinces, as well as in other areas of the country, and ill-intentioned people have instigated violence with the use of war weapons. As a result, a number of people died and were injured.
The situation has undermined public safety and national security. Members of the general public were urged to continue their daily lives as normal.
After the announcement of the martial law, a Peace and Order Maintaining Command has been set up, with General Prayut as Director. The Command is responsible for enforcing the martial law in maintaining peace and order.
In this regard, the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order, which was formed on 28 April 2014, has to stop its operations.
The Peace and Order Maintaining Command has appointed the Supreme Commander, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force, and the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police as advisors to the Command.”