Thailand coup: Broadcasting suspended, curfew imposed nationwide

After two days of talks between Thailand`s political rivals yielded no results, Royal Thai Army declared a coup d`etat, taking over the reins of the government.

By Supriya Jha | Updated: May 22, 2014, 23:42 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Bangkok: After two days of talks between Thailand`s political rivals yielded no results, Royal Thai Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha declared a coup d`etat in the nation, taking over the reins of the government, in order to keep the crisis from escalating.

Announcing the crucial move on live TV, the Army said that it will restore order and peace in the country, besides enacting political reforms.

"In order for the country to return to normal quickly the National Peace Keeping Committee comprised of the army, the Thai armed forces, the Royal Air Force and the police need to seize power as of May 22 at 4.30 pm (local time)," the Army said in a televised statement.

Army has also imposed night curfew across the nation in order to tighten the security.

"Under martial law, the National Peace Keeping Committee prohibits anyone across the kingdom from leaving their home from 10 pm to 5 am," an Army spokesman was quoted as saying on TV.

The coup has also hit the broadcast media as television and radio stations are required to suspend their normal programmes and flash only statements made by the Army or play patriotic songs.

Also, the Army banned the gathering of more than five people.

"Under articles 8 and 11 of martial law, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council prohibits gatherings of more than five people for political purposes," said the military announcement.

"Anyone who violates the ban will be subject to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht fine, or both."

The decision of coup was taken just two days after the Army on Tuesday had imposed martial law in the country to tackle the security situation in the country, which has deteriorated since last few months due to frequent confrontations between political rivals. 

Hours after declaring martial law, Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha had invited the country`s two political rival parties for negotiations. 

However, after the talks did not yield any fruitful solution, the Army “sealed off the talks venue and took the leaders away”, reported the BBC.

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

Thai Army had earlier assured that it was not planning a coup saying that the step was taken with the sole purpose of preserving the security situation in the country.
However, a close aide of the caretaker PM had sounded dubious, telling CNN that the government wasn`t consulted and hence the situation was "half a coup d`etat". 

Also, reacting on martial law, Thailand`s caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan had cautioned the Royal Thai Army to proceed in accordance with the constitution.

This is the twelfth coup, Thailand has witnessed since 1932`s end of the monarchy.

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

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.