Thailand's Army Declares Martial Law: 'It's Not a Coup'

Thai soldiers take up position on a street outside the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) after soldiers were sent in to seize the center Tuesday, May 20, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand's army declared martial law early Tuesday morning, local time, in a move it said will restore order after six months of political protests, according to multiple reports.
However, the military denied that the move was a sign of a coup d'etat. "We declared a state of emergency; it's not a coup. Because of the situation, it's not stable, they kill each other every day," an unidentified general told Reuters. Another unidentified army official echoed this statement, saying "This is definitely not a coup. This is only to provide safety to the people and the people can still carry on their lives as normal," the Associated Press reported.

The declaration, which came a day after Thailand's acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan refused to resign, means the army is now in charge of public security across the country, according to the AP.
Armed troops took over private television stations in Bangkok to announce the army's decision to enact martial law to "keep peace and order," according to an official statement. The army also wanted to inform citizens that "this is not a coup," the unidentified general said, according to Reuters.

Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri said the army had not consulted the cabinet before enacting martial law. He downplayed the move, and emphasized that Thailand's interim government is still ruling. "Security matters will be handled solely by the military, and whether the situation intensifies or is resolved is up to them," Nitisiri told the AP. "There is no cause to panic. Personally, I welcome the move."
Thailand has been experiencing political turmoil for years. Most recently, at the end of 2013, an amnesty bill for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, sent thousands of protesters into the streets. The Constitutional Court has since found Yingluck and nine of her ministers guilty of abuse of power, forcing them to resign earlier this month.

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