Thais this morning (May 23) emerged to their first day living under the country’s 12th coup d’état since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932 after Thailand’s army chief, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, declared yesterday (May 22) in a late afternoon television address: “I have decided to seize power”.
Being phrased as a “military intervention”, rather than a coup d’état, the military putsch came after less than two days of compulsory mediation at the Thai Army Club between the various stakeholders involved in the ongoing bloody street battles that have seen corpses litter the streets of Bangkok.
According to local media reports General Chan-o-cha became frustrated with the lack of progress in putting an end to the protests after five hours of discussions yesterday, deciding to detain all of the attendees and seize power.
Amongst some 25 people initially detained and believed to be now held at the Bangkok barracks of the First Infantry Regiment of the King’s Guards are:
Caretaker government: Chaikasem Nitisiri, Waratep Ratanakorn, Sermsak Pongpanich, Chatchat Sitthiphan, and Thanusak Lekuthai.
Pheu Thai Party (PTP): Police Lieutenant general Wirot Pao-in, Phumtham Wechayachai, Chusak Sirinin, Wanmuhamadnor Mata, and Prompong Noparit.
Democrat Party: Abhisit Vejjajiva, Juti Krairiksh, Sirichoke Soph, Niphit Inthasombat, and Chamni Sakdiset.
People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC): Suthep Thaugsuban, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Ekanat Promphan, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Somsak Kosaisuk.
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD): Jatuporn Promphan, Nattawut Saikua, Thida Thawornset, Weerakan Musikphong, and Korkaew Pikulthong.
A list of 155 political leaders, including former prime ministers Yingluck Shinawatra (along with her sister and brother-in-law), recently deposed caretaker prime minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, along with pro- and anti-government protesters, were earlier today ordered to report to the Thai army headquarters in Bangkok by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), established by the junta to govern the nation.
Citing an unnamed senior military officer, Reuters said it was told those detained will be held for “no more than a week. We just need to organise matters in the country first”.
News of the 2014 Thailand coup brought an immediate response from the European Union, the UN Secretary-General, and the United States government, with all urging the military to not stand in the way of democracy and wishes for a peaceful end to the political dispute.
The seizure of executive power came just two days after General Chan-o-cha unilaterally declared nationwide martial law in response to six months of protracted and at times violent political protests that had all of the potential to devolve into an all out civil war.
Early this morning the Thai army moved in rapidly to remove the tent city and barricades erected by the PDRC stretching from Democracy Monument to Royal Plaza, with all traces removed and roads reopened to traffic by midday. Those PDRC protestors who remained in the camp overnight were allowed to leave.
2014 Thailand coup day 1, May 23 slide gallery
- Thailand military seizes power in coup
- Thailand coup: A cheat sheet to get you up to speed
- Thailand coup: Army seizes control of government to restore ‘peace’
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me
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