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Thailand's army declares martial law


BANGKOK (AP) - Thailand's army declared martial law in a surprise announcement in Bangkok before dawn on Tuesday, intensifying the turbulent nation's deepening political crisis. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway.

The move came after six months of anti-government demonstrations aimed at ousting the government and one day after the Southeast Asian country's caretaker prime minister refused to step down.

The army said in a statement that the military had taken the action to "keep peace and order" and soldiers entered several private television stations in the capital.

An army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, told The Associated Press "this is definitely not a coup. This is only to provide safety to the people and the people can still carry on their lives as normal."

A ticker on Chanel 5, an army station, also denied the military was taking over and asked the public not to panic.

Thailand's army has staged at 11 successful coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The military statement was signed by army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha. It cited a 1914 law that gives it authority to intervene during times of crisis, and said it had taken the action because on-going mass rallies between political rivals "could impact the country's security and safety of the lives and properties of the public."

On Monday, Thailand's acting prime minister insisted his government will not resign, resisting pressure from a group of senators who are seeking ways to settle the country's political crisis, and from anti-government protesters who are demanding an appointed prime minister.

The deadlock in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy has been worsening since former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house in December and a court ousted her and nine Cabinet ministers earlier this month for abuse of power.

A group of about 70 senators, most of whom are seen as siding with the anti-government protesters, proposed a framework on Friday that calls for a government with full power to conduct political reforms.

Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri met with two representatives of the Senate in an undisclosed location Monday to avoid disruption from the protesters.

In a statement following the meeting, Niwattumrong said the Cabinet cannot resign because "it will be negligence of duty and against the constitution," and insisted he "can carry out duties and has full authority" as prime minister.

The Cabinet has operated in a caretaker capacity with limited power since Yingluck dissolved the lower house in December in a failed bid to ease the political crisis. A new government cannot normally be named until there are elections, which anti-government demonstrators have vowed to block unless political reforms occur first.

The Senate, the only functioning legislative body in the country, was seen as the last resort of the anti-government protesters, who are calling for an interim, unelected prime minister to be chosen.

Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court removed Yingluck for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters said her removal is not enough because she was replaced by an acting prime minister from the ruling party, Niwattumrong.

Anti-government protesters say they are making their final push to oust the government and install an unelected prime minister and government. They have promised to call off their rallies if they are not successful by May 26, following six months of street demonstrations in which 28 people have died and hundreds of others have been injured.

The protesters on Monday began searching for members of the Cabinet at their residences to pressure them to resign, but did not find any.

Labor unions representing about 20 state-owned enterprises vowed to go on strike Thursday to support the anti-government protesters, although several companies, including Thai Airways and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, said Monday that they would operate normally.

Thailand's political crisis began in 2006, when Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire, remains highly popular among the poor in the north and northeast, and parties controlled by him have won every national election since 2001. The anti-government protesters, who are aligned with the opposition Democrat Party and backed by the country's traditional elites, say they want to remove all traces of his political machine from politics.

Thaksin's supporters, known as the Red Shirts, have staged a rally in Bangkok's western outskirts since May 10, raising concerns about possible clashes between them and the anti-government protesters.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
d.carns May 19 2014 at 8:53 PM

Lies and deceit Obama's greatest tools of destruction.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
americanmusclen55 d.carns May 19 2014 at 9:30 PM

November time to pay Obama back remember.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
ganderrrr americanmusclen55 May 19 2014 at 9:47 PM

He will remain your president until 1/20/17 and you can do nothing about it:)

Flag 0 rate up
kulpw40 americanmusclen55 May 19 2014 at 10:15 PM

He's in the office of president but he wouldn't make a pimple on a President's butt.

Flag +2 rate up
jtobend d.carns May 19 2014 at 9:36 PM

o..thought that was BUSH.CHENEY and WMD'S

Flag Reply 0 rate up
wizardsking May 19 2014 at 9:12 PM

THE MIDAS TOUCH:
Reguardless of what either party might say:
Anything and everything OBAMA touches B R E A K S.
And it will happen hear...........unless 2016 comes sooner than expected.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
oyam10 May 19 2014 at 9:11 PM

wont be long before we have martial law here ,Obama don't want to resign

Flag Reply +9 rate up
4 replies
d.carns May 19 2014 at 8:51 PM

I was thinking the same thing. How the hell is Obama got his fingers in this one. He screws up everything he touches. Wasn't he just visiting there and promised the guy in power US Support.'

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
Bobby d.carns May 19 2014 at 9:52 PM

It's just a test run.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
fox12ga May 20 2014 at 2:48 AM

It wouldn't surprise me if obama tried the same thing

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
Michele fox12ga May 20 2014 at 3:39 AM

Just was going to say that, and I have a feeling he may try it.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
PERFORATOR fox12ga May 20 2014 at 4:12 AM

Are you saying that just because he's fired so many great Generals who have been loyal to our country?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
IM BACK May 19 2014 at 8:56 PM

Well there goes the price of gas.
They like to use any reason to raise it

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
americanmusclen55 IM BACK May 19 2014 at 9:29 PM

Gas
Disneyland
Food
Life as you know it, ask before you flush.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ganderrrr IM BACK May 19 2014 at 9:46 PM

Thailand is not a crude oil exporter.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
fenwaypark9 May 19 2014 at 9:01 PM

Stay out of it Obama. The U.S. Doesn't have to get involved with every issue around the world while wealthy nations sit back and let us take the fall. Grow a pair Obama and force other nations to step up.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
twiggymonsterone fenwaypark9 May 19 2014 at 9:18 PM

You know a solution to this problem and not sharing? And does this become our problem, this is why the world has the U.N.. Every wants to blame Obama, but no one has a suggestion as how to do it, other than bombing them back to the stone age. I expect this from tea-bagger's not because their ability to live in alternate reality is God given. This is Thailand's problem and not our's.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
donrahilly twiggymonsterone May 19 2014 at 9:25 PM

I'm an independent voter but have to ask a question: Where to what you call "tea baggers" come into the equation? Is this the normal liberal/whine/Dem comment???

Flag +5 rate up
ganderrrr fenwaypark9 May 19 2014 at 9:46 PM

Helpful hint...Not everything on earth has something to do with the USA. This coup is one such.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
americanmusclen55 May 19 2014 at 9:23 PM

Do you like being free? Well if you do, and I do, then this is not for you.

The bottom line is, we are a free nation, and that freedom is granted by our Constitution . Martial Law suspends our constitution. There is then NOTHING keeping the military and or government from doing whatever they want, to whoever they want, for any or no reason. If you think the police are bad, the military will shoot you sight on seen if you do something bad. Government Rule. No not good, not at all.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
4 replies
iluvfreespeech May 19 2014 at 9:21 PM

its coming here folks , America has had all its going to take

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
ganderrrr iluvfreespeech May 19 2014 at 9:44 PM

You think there's going to be a military coup in the USA?

Where did you sustain your brain damage?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tbwest84 May 19 2014 at 9:24 PM

The last black president

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
ganderrrr tbwest84 May 19 2014 at 9:43 PM

Thailand does not have a president. It has no blacks in government.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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