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Asia
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Politics

The army takes control but denies coup in Thailand

Region:
Asia
Category:
Politics
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The military statement was signed by General Prayuth Chan-Ocha and cites a 1914 law that gives the military authority to intervene in times of crisis and said he had resorted to this action due to ongoing street protests

Thailand's powerful army imposed martial law before dawn on Tuesday and deployed troops in central Bangkok, a dramatic action whose aim, he said, is to stabilize the Southeast Asian country after six months of political turmoil.

The military insisted, however, that a coup was not prepared.

The surprise operation left to the army public safety across the country comes as uncertainty about the fate of the nation deepens, a day after the interim prime minister refused to resign before the prolonged anti-government demonstrations.

Although soldiers entered numerous television stations to transmit the message of the army, the activities of the city where skyscrapers abound almost not affected, as the schools, businesses and tourist sites maintained their normal pace. In a major avenue in front of some of the most luxurious shopping malls country bystanders watched intently soldiers aboard jeeps that had mounted machine guns, who diverted traffic. The atmosphere was not tense and citizens stopped to take pictures with their mobile phones. Interim Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan convened a urgent cabinet meeting on a site that is not released.

Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri told The Associated Press that the army Niwattumrong not consulted before taking the measure but downplayed the decision and said that the prime minister was in charge of the country, although the army is responsible for security.

"Security issues to be handled exclusively by the armed forces and if the situation worsens or resolved is in his hands," he said. "There is no reason to panic."

Thailand is a hub for Southeast Asia to a constant political instability since 2006, when the brother of Yingluck, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Thai army, whom many consider prone to anti-government protesters, has made 11 successful coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The military statement was signed by General Prayuth Chan-Ocha. Cited a 1914 law that gives the military authority to intervene in times of crisis and said he had resorted to this action due to ongoing street demonstrations between rival politicians who "could impact national security.

Source: AP

traslation: Belén Zapata