Thailand army declares martial law, denies coup | News | DW | 19.05.2014
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Thailand army declares martial law, denies coup

Thailand’s military has declared martial law. The surprise announcement follows months of civil unrest over political corruption, which has led to deadly clashes. However, the army denied there had been a coup d' état.

In a televised statement, Thailand's army announced early on Tuesday it had invoked martial law. It also denied that it had taken over the government.

"The invocation of martial law is not a coup…[it is to] keep peace and order," the military statement said.

News agency AFP later reported that the military had not consulted the government, according to information from the security adviser to interim Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan. However, he reportedly confirmed that it had not staged a coup.

"The caretaker government still exists with Niwattumrong as caretaker prime minister. Everything is normal except the military is responsible for all national security issues," chief security adviser Paradon Pattanatabut said.

The acting justice minister also said that the government retained control.

"It's good that the army is looking after the country's security. However, the government still has full power to run the country," interim Defense Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri told news agency Reuters.

Unrest has gripped Thailand for roughly six months, sparked by public outrage over corruption allegations against the country's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Critics accused her of acting as a proxy for her exiled brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Earlier this month, the Thai Constitutional Court found her guilty of nepotism, forcing her resignation. She also faces impeachment over a failed rice subsidy scheme, which cost Bangkok billions.

Despite her removal from office, tensions have not eased in the southeast Asian country. Last week, hundreds of protesters stormed a meeting between the interim prime minister, Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and the Election Commission, while they were negotiating a July election date to replace the current caretaker government.

Fears have also grown that the political discord could also be played out on the streets with "Red Shirt" supporters of Yingluck's Puea Thai party becoming increasingly disgruntled since her forced resignation.

Clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters have left nearly 30 people dead and hundreds more injured.

Thailand was placed under a state of emergency by the government for some two months beginning in January (pictured above) to combat violent protests.

kms,rc/crh (AP, AFP)

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