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Thailand's Army Seizes Power, Suspends Constitution, and Imposes Curfew

A Thai military general announced the coup on national TV, saying that it was “necessary to seize power" and promising to restore stability.
May 22, 2014, 2:40pm
Photo via Reuters

In the second time in less than a decade, the Thai military today staged a coup and seized full control of the country. The army suspended the constitution and imposed a curfew across Thailand. This move comes two days after the military declared martial law on Tuesday.

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The head of the army, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha announced the coup on national television, saying that it was “necessary to seize power,” adding that the military would restore stability and bring necessary reforms to Thailand.

The head of the Thai Army announced the military coup today, stating his forces were taking control. Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha made the announcement live on TV, saying the move was necessary to restore order after much political upheaval in recent months. Video via YouTube/ThaiPBS.

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Pro- and anti-government protests took place in central Bangkok. Soldiers reportedly shot into the air to disperse the rival protests.

8:20pm Traffic in — Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow)May 22, 2014

The military has been holding talks with political leaders since Tuesday but has failed to reach an agreement. The coup comes after months of political turmoil and protests in Thailand between vying political factions.

In December, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament in an attempt to appease the anti-government protests. New elections were set for February that Shinawatra's ruling Puea Thai Party ruling party was widely expected to win. In response, protesters blocked polling stations around the country and prevented voting from taking place. The election was annulled in March.

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On May 7, a Thai court ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of abuse of power.

This video shows troops at the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand TV station in Bangkok after martial law was declared on Tuesday. Video via YouTube.

Much of the conflict is centered between the pro-government "red shirt" movement and the anti-government and royalist elite "yellow shirts."

Thailand has faced power struggles and political deadlock since 2006, when the army ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and declared military rule for more than a year afterwards. The country has seen 12 coups, including the one today, and seven attempted coups since 1932.

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The one stabilizing figure in the country is the king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has previously helped to mediate Thailand’s political crises. Adulyadej, however, is 86 and his influence is rapidly waning.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928