Thailand Coup: Military Takes Over, Seizes Political Leaders, Suspends Constitution

A coup in Thailand has now placed the government there under control of the country’s military, which seized top political leaders, suspended the Thailand constitution, and imposed a nationwide curfew starting Thursday night at 5 pm local time (8 am US Eastern Time). Royal Thai Army Chief general Prayuth Chan-ocha (pictured) told the country that the military coup was necessary to allow the country to “love and be at peace again.”

Thailand has been rocked by what has now been six months of often violent street demonstrations and political chaos, in which 28 people have died and about 700 more were injured.

Three days after the army declared martial law but promised that the military would not stage a coup, Prayuth appeared on national television in Thailand to announce that the military had seized control of the government after all — for the 12th time since 1932 when Thailand ended the rule of its monarchy and turned the king and queen into figureheads.

Prayuth ordered street protesters to return to their homes and cancelled all radio and TV broadcasts not authorized by the military. The nationwide curfew, he said, will take effect from 10 am to 5 pm every day until he decides that the Thailand political crisis is under control.

“In order for the situation to return to normal quickly and for society to love and be at peace again and to reform the structure of the political, economic and social structure, the military need to take control of power,” Prayuth said in Thursday’s televised declaration of the Thailand coup.

The coup came after leaders of rival Thailand political factions met to negotiate an end to the crisis, but failed to reach any agreement.

Thailand has been divided into camps that back ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose attempt to bring her billionaire brother back from exile triggered the current crisis — in a country with a lengthy history of political unrest.

An opposition movement wants to impose an unelected government that would rewrite the Thailand constitution. The opposition says that the current regime is too corrupt to be trusted with fair elections.

Though the military said it would provide security to foreigners in Thailand, the coup, with its nightly curfew, is expected to deliver a blow to the Thailand tourism industry, a major element of the country’s economy which has already been struggling due to the months of political unrest.

One Australian insurance company has already said that it will not provide travel insurance to Australians traveling to Thailand, due to the coup, with other insurers expected to follow suit.

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