Thailand‘s army declared martial law in the early hours of Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but denied that it was staging a military coup.
“In order to broadcast correct information, without any distortion which will create misunderstanding and create more conflict and may disrupt the work of the officials to bring peace and order back to the society, according to Martial law section 11, therefore, we ask satellite stations and community radios to stop broadcasting,” the army announced in a written statement carried on national television.
While troops patrolled the streets of Bangkok, the caretaker government led by supporters of self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra was still in office, military and government officials said. Ministers were not informed of the army’s plans before the surprise announcement on television at 3 a.m. (2000 GMT on Monday, May 19).
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military was taking charge of public security because of violent protests that had claimed lives and caused damage. Nearly 30 people have been killed since the protests began in November last year.