Thailand’s military detained former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday in the latest development of the country’s unraveling political crisis.
The army, which is consolidating its grip on Thailand following Thursday’s coup d'état, barred 155 prominent citizens from leaving the country. The group includes Yingluck and various politicians and activists, as well as members of her family.
According to local reports, Yingluck and other political figures responded to a summons by the military. Some leaders have since been released but others, including Yingluck, were taken to an undisclosed location. A military spokesman indicated that she and her family members would not be held for longer than a week.
Thailand has faced political deadlock since 2006 when Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was deposed in a military coup. Yingluck herself was forced to step down as prime minister two weeks ago when the country’s Constitutional Court found her guilty of abuse of power for having reassigned the national security chief in 2011.
The army declared martial law in the country on Tuesday following days of protests, and was quick to stress that its move wasn’t a coup. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of the military, nevertheless seized control of the government yesterday. He suspended the constitution and imposed a curfew across the country, and is acting as interim prime minister.
In a meeting with local politicians on Friday, Gen. Prayuth asked for civil servants to help organize the country, and insisted that “economic, social, and political reforms” must precede an election that would restore civilian rule.
“If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people,” he said.
The martial law declaration included a ban on protests, but some citizens in Bangkok defied the law and demonstrated against the coup in today, risking arrest.
Protester arrested on skywalk near Arts Ctr.
— Piriyathep K (@PKinbangkok)May 23, 2014
Precise details regarding Yingluck’s detention are difficult to confirm because the military has blocked much of Thailand’s media since seizing power. Activists and journalists have taken to posting on social media accounts to report what is unfolding in the country. The military has warned that it will shut down social media services that are used to incite violence, and said it would prosecute users that instigate disruptions.
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