Royal Thai Army chief invites political rivals for talks after declaring martial law

In his first reaction to the martial law enforcement in the nation, Thailand`s caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan cautioned that the Royal Thai Army must proceed in accordance with the constitution and that its actions must follow a peaceful path.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: May 20, 2014, 16:51 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Bangkok: Hours after declaring martial law in Thailand, Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday said that he had invited the country`s two political rival parties for negotiations.

Speaking to reporters, the Army chief said, "We are in the process of inviting both sides to talk but at the minute the situation is still not normal... That`s why I have had to invoke martial law".

In a surprise announcement on early morning today, Royal Thai Army declared martial law in the country in order to tackle the law and order situation which has deteriorated since last few months due to frequent confrontations between political rivals.

Thailand has been in the throes of political uncertainty in the absence of a powerful functioning government since last six months.

The sudden declaration by the Army comes just a day after Thai caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan refused to resign under pressure from anti-government protesters.

In his first reaction to the martial law enforcement in the nation, Thailand`s caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan cautioned that the Royal Thai Army must proceed in accordance with the constitution and that its actions must follow a peaceful path.

The statement issued by the PM`s office read, "Any actions need to follow a peaceful path, without violence, discrimination and with equality based on the rule of law," the statement, attributed to the premier, said.

Despite Thai Army`s statement that it was not planning any coup, a close aide of the caretaker PM sounded dubious, telling CNN that the government wasn`t consulted and hence the situation could be likened to "half a coup d`etat".

However, Thai Army insists that the step has been taken with a sole purpose of preserving the security situation in the country and that it`s no way a “coup”, the BBC reported.

It can be noted that Thailand Army has so far staged 11 coups since 1932 – the last being the 2006 ouster of Thaksin Shinawatra.

"Everything is normal except the military is responsible for all national security issues," Lt General Paradorn Pattanatabut was quoted as saying.

Thai Army added that it will not interfere with the functioning of the caretaker government.

The announcement was made on Thai-military run channel 5, telling people “there was no need to panic” as the move was being taken only to restore peace and order.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha invoked a 1914 law to sign the martial law as the Army is allowed to intervene during crisis.

The latest bout of political unrest was triggered in November when Yingluck Sinawatra`s Cabinet tried to pass an Amnesty law that wouls have paved the way for her brother Thakisn Shinawatra`s return. 

Protesters led by opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban accused the Yingluck government of being a puppet regime being run indirectly by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra

The nation was pushed deeper into political limbo on May 7 when Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her ministers were dismissed after a court found them guilty of abuse of power.