• Monday, September 22, 2014

Thai army chief to meet key players

BBC Online
Thai soldiers stand guard near a pro-government
Thai soldiers stand guard near a pro-government "red shirt" encampment in suburbs of Bangkok on 21 May 2014 Martial law was imposed early on Tuesday, amid political deadlock

Thailand's army chief is to hold talks with key players in the political crisis, a day after declaring martial law in the protest-hit nation.

General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has asked to meet the government, the Senate speaker and the two main protest factions.

After the talks it could become clearer whether the military will restrict itself to security or extend its powers, a BBC correspondent says.

On Tuesday, the acting prime minister appealed to the army to act peacefully.

Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan also said he had asked for new elections to be called for August, after a snap poll in February was annulled.

DEADLOCK CYCLE

Thailand has seen six months of unrest since protesters began a campaign in November 2013 to oust the government. At least 28 people have been killed and hundreds injured.

The army announced martial law in the early hours of Tuesday with the intention to "preserve order and bring back peacefulness".

It cited a 1914 law that allows intervention during times of crisis but insisted this was not a coup.

Soldiers have taken over TV and radio stations in Bangkok - both pro and anti-government - and have moved into the currently unoccupied government building.

Thailand has been trapped in a cycle of political deadlock since the military ousted Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister in 2006.

He was widely admired by poor, rural voters - who have since elected Thaksin-allied governments in both post-coup elections - but despised by the urban elite, who form the core of the current protest movement.

His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, led the current government until she was ousted by a court earlier this month.

The protesters say Shinawatra family money has corrupted Thailand's democracy and want an appointed administration to reform the political system before polls are held.

But any move to appoint a new administration would infuriate "red-shirt" government supporters, who have vowed to protest.

 

Published: 11:47 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Last modified: 11:08 pm Wednesday, May 21, 2014

TAGS: Thailand political crisis martial law army chief key players

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