Thai Army declares coup
New York Times full article here
The Thai military on Thursday launched a coup, declaring that it was “necessary to seize power.” The head of the Thai Army, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, made the announcement on television flanked by senior military officers.
The Thai news media reported that political officers who were attending a meeting called by the military had been detained.
The coup came after the introduction of martial law on Tuesday and follows a long history of coups in Thailand.
General Prayuth said the coup was launched “in order to bring the situation back to normal quickly.” The coup, he said, was intended to “reform the political structure, the economy and the society.”
The last coup in Thailand was in 2006 and had been followed by more than a year of military rule.
Thousands of protesters were on the streets when General Prayuth made his announcement.
“The national peacekeeping committee,” he said, referring to the military, “will worship and protect the monarchy.”
Thailand’s king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is 86 years old and ailing. He has been on the throne for more than 60 years.
The Thai government has been paralyzed by protests for the last six months.
Protesters have sought to eradicate the country’s most powerful political family, the Shinawatras. The country’s politics have been turbulent since 2006, when the military removed Thaksin Shinawatra, the patriarch of the family, who founded a populist movement that has won every election since 2001.
Mr. Thaksin, whose power base was in the provinces, challenged the power of the Bangkok establishment, a conflict that has been one of the roots of eight years of political turmoil in the country.
General Prayuth did not mention anything about elections in his announcement. Elections in February were boycotted by the opposition and blocked by protesters. The coup announcement was made after the Thai stock market was closed.