Thailand's army seizes power in a military coup
By Boonradom Chitradon ,AFP
May 23, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
BANGKOK -- Thailand's army chief seized power in a military coup on Thursday, ordering rival protesters off the streets and deposing the government in a bid to end months of political bloodshed.
General Prayuth Chan-Ocha made the announcement in a televised address to the nation, saying the powerful armed forces had to act to restore stability in the Southeast Asian nation.
The military declared a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and ordered demonstrators on both sides of the kingdom's political divide to disperse and go home after nearly seven months of political rallies in the capital.
It banned gatherings of more than five people, summoned the ousted cabinet to report to the army and suspended the constitution — except for the section related to the monarchy.
Moments before Prayuth's stunning announcement, witnesses said they saw leaders of Thailand's two main political parties and its rival protest movements being taken by the military from a venue where Prayuth had convened talks aimed at resolving their differences.
It was unclear if they had been formally detained.
The tough-talking Prayuth, 60, said he seized power because of "the violence in Bangkok and many parts of the country that resulted in loss of innocent lives and property and was likely to escalate."
It is the latest twist in a nearly decadelong political crisis stretching back to an earlier coup in 2006 that deposed the controversial tycoon-turned-politician Thaksin Shinawatra as premier — a move that infuriated his supporters.