Written by Staff Writer
20 May, 2014 | 7:08 am
The Thai army declared martial law throughout the country Tuesday in a surprise move that an aide to the country’s embattled Prime Minister said the government didn’t know about beforehand.
“They took this action unilaterally. The government is having a special meeting regarding this. We have to watch and see if the army chief honors his declaration of impartiality,” the aide said, describing the situation as “half a coup d’etat.”
Lt. Gen. Nipat Thonglek told foreign media the move was not a coup.
“The Army aims to maintain peace, order and public safety for all groups and all parties,” a ticker running on the army’s television channel said. “People are urged not to panic, and can carry on their business as usual. Declaring martial law is not a coup d’etat.”
Martial law went into effect at 3 a.m. on Tuesday, the ticker said.
All Thai TV stations are being guarded by the military, Thai public television announced, showing pictures of soldiers and armored vehicles taking positions outside broadcast facilities in the country’s capital.
The dramatic announcements come days after the head of the army issued a stern warning after political violence had surged in the country’s capital.
Political tensions have been running high in Thailand. Supporters and opponents of the country’s government have staged mass protests in recent days, and caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from office, along with nine cabinet ministers, by a top court earlier this month.
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