Army Moves from Martial Law to Coup D'Etat in Thailand
General announces to nation that military will "take control of governing the country" as political leaders escorted away from stalled negotiations
Less than three days after declaring martial law in Thailand, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha on Thursday has announced the military has now taken full control of the government and justified the coup d'etat by saying it has been executed to avoid further "violence" and ensure "peace and order" amid a political fracturing of the country that has lasted for nearly seven years.
"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," Prayuth said in a public statement.
A heavy military presence was visible on the streets of Bangkok, the nation's capital and largest city.
On Tuesday, the general took to the nation's airwaves and declared martial law, saying that the military wanted the warring factions to resolve their political disputes at the negotiating table.
The volatile political disputes in the country have spiraled over the last six months with at least 28 people being killed and many hundreds injured since late last year when anti-government protesters began calling for the ouster of the caretaker Pheu Thai government.
Following the announcement of martial law earlier in the week new talks were initiated, but appear to have resulted in too little progress in the estimation of the Prayuth and other military commanders.
As Guardian correspondent Kate Hodal reports from Bangkok:
Rival political factions have spent the past two days at Bangkok's Army Club, where they attempted to come to a compromise over the future of the country. Despite various options reportedly being floated at the Prayuth-mediated talks, no agreement was arranged, although the rival leaders did tweet "selfies" of themselves smiling and laughing together at the roundtable discussions.
On Thursday afternoon, witnesses said that hundreds of extra troops arrived at the venue and took away the leader of the anti-government protests, Suthep Thaugsuban. It remained unclear who else was detained. Members of the government, opposition party, senate, election commission and pro-government forces had been attending the talks.
Local media reported that the caretaker premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan's whereabouts were unknown, although it did not seem that he had been detained. He was not part of the recent negotiations.
The Bangkok Post's latest reporting confirmed that the negotiating teams were escorted from the Army Club and transported under guard to military barracks nearby. The Post indicated that the most recent comments from Niwattumrong reiterated his pledge not to step down from his post willingly.