Thai Army: OK, Now It's a Coup

Army chief ends 2 days of meetings, grabs control
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2014 5:48 AM CDT
Updated May 22, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
Thai Army: OK, Now It's a Coup
A Thai soldier stands guard in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Thailand's army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha assumed the role of mediator Wednesday by summoning key rivals for face-to-face talks.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Two days after Thailand's military instituted martial law in what it said was decidedly not a coup, the army chief took to national television today to announce that now it's staging a coup d'etat. The move abruptly ended two days of meetings between political rivals that had failed to break the impasse, reports the AP. Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military staged the coup "in order to bring the situation back to normal quickly," adds the New York Times. He cited the need to quickly push through reforms to "the political structure, the economy, and the society." Hours later, he announced that the country's constitution had been suspended, notes the BBC.

The military detained at least some of the political leaders who showed up for talks today, including anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, the Guardian reports. Interim premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan's whereabouts are unknown. Soldiers reportedly moved into position at protest sites across Bangkok, according to the Washington Post. On the outskirts of the city, they fired shots into the air to disperse thousands of redshirt activists. Television stations have stopped broadcasting—a military spokesman said that TV and radio must only air army-approved programming. A 10pm curfew has also been instituted. But Thailand is accustomed to coups, CNN points out; in the wake of Tuesday's takeover, a hashtag started trending that roughly translates to "Show me a cute soldier," with locals snapping pics of dreamy enforcers. (Read more Thailand stories.)

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