Thailand’s caretaker government has called for a fresh election as a way of resolving the country’s political crisis. This came after the military imposed martial law throughout the country.
Caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan told reporters in Bangkok on Tuesday that his government had written to Thailand's electoral commission to propose that a general election be held on August 3. He also said he hoped to "submit a royal decree" for the king's endorsement and that his government would "engage in reforms before the election," without providing any details.
The army announced in the early hours of Tuesday that it was imposing martial law, but also denied that this amounted to a military coup. In a televised statement, the head of the army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the move was designed to head off a possible new violent confrontation between supporters of the opposition and the government.
"There are some groups with bad intentions to create unrest, and threatening to use weapons on the people," he said.
"I'm asking all those activist groups to stop all activities and cooperate with us in seeking a way out of this crisis," he added.
Earlier, the prime minister had said he supported the army's decision to impose martial law in an effort to restore order.
The leader of anti-government protesters, though, said later that martial law would not stop their "civil uprising."
"We still retain our right to demonstrate against this tyrannical government," former opposition member of parliament Suthep Thaugsuban said in a speech to supporters.
Nearly 30 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured since the latest anti-government protests broke out last November.
Opposition supporters say they are seeking an end to the influence of former Prime Minister Thanksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup. He has been living for years in self-imposed exile to avoid arrest over a corruption conviction. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister after being convicted of abuse of power earlier this month.
The decision to impose military rule has been met with caution by the European Union.
"The EU has consistently called for dialogue, a peaceful resolution of the political crisis and respect for democratic principles in Thailand," a spokesperson for the bloc's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
"The priority now is to set a clear timetable for early elections and establish as soon as possible a fully functioning government with democratic legitimacy," the spokesperson added.
pfd/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP)