Thailand’s army declared martial law early Tuesday “to restore peace and order” after months of antigovernment protests, but stressed that a military coup was not underway.
Soldiers entered several private television stations in Bangkok, the capital, after a predawn statement signed by the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, which said that ongoing political rallies “could impact the country’s security and safety of the lives and properties of the public,” the Bangkok Post reported on its website.
“Do not panic,” read an alert on the army-run Channel 5 TV station, adding that the move was “not a coup.”
The Thai army has staged 11 successful coups since 1932.
The move threw the Southeast Asian kingdom into further political uncertainty amid months of protests and political maneuvering by supporters and opponents of the beleaguered government. More than 20 people have died in seven months of protests that have occasionally paralyzed Bangkok.
Two weeks ago, Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an abuse of power case, forcing her and several Cabinet ministers to leave office. Yingluck’s deputy took over the weakened government and vowed to press ahead with elections scheduled for July, but opponents have pushed for the appointment of a new prime minister, raising fears of a constitutional crisis.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times