Thailand military stages coup d'etat

Thailand's army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, said Thursday that the army is taking control of the government in a bid to restore order and push through political reform.

Reaction to the news, which was announced live on television, has so far been muted.

"It is necessary for the Peace and Order Maintaining Command — which includes army, navy, armed forces and police — to take control of governing the country," Prayuth said, in an address to the nation.

The development comes after the military invoked martial law on Tuesday as Thailand continues to be rocked by political turmoil following the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over corruption charges. Her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in exile, was also ousted from power, in a military coup in 2006.

"NOW it is COUP — stand by for a retaliation from the UDD," the Red Shirts, a group still loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra, said over Twitter as the news broke Thursday.

Opponents in Thailand's polarizing political crisis has been meeting Thursday for a second round of talks mediated by the country's army chief, who had summoned the bitter rivals in a bid to end six months of turmoil.

Many of the country's highest-profile figures were summoned for the meeting. They included the acting prime minister — who sent four Cabinet ministers in his place — and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, as well as Suthep's rival from the pro-government Red Shirt group, Jatuporn Prompan. Reporters at the meeting said Suthep and Jatuporn were escorted out of the meeting by soldiers.

A government official, Paradorn Pattanathabutr, contacted shortly after the announcement said that the four ministers attending the meeting were still being held by the military.

The coup announced Thursday was the 12th since the country's absolute monarchy ended in 1932.

Contributing: Associated Press


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