Thailand’s army declared martial law today to restore order after six months of anti-government protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but denied that it was staging a military coup.
The caretaker government led by supporters of self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra was still in office, military officials and the country’s justice minister said, following the surprise announcement on television at 3am local time.
The military last took power in Thailand in 2006 to oust then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
On May 7, his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and nine of her ministers were dismissed after being found guilty of abuse of power.
Soldiers have secured television stations, with the media urged not to broadcast material that will affect national security.
The military has told ten satellite channels, including stations run by pro- and anti-government groups, that they must stop broadcasting in order to “preserve peace and order”.