Thailand’s army chief has appeared on every TV channel in the kingdom and declared that the army is taking control of the government. Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha told civil servants and military personnel to remain at their stations.
Thai soldiers removed anti-government protests leader Suthep Thaugsuban from a meeting of all political factions as hundreds of extra troops arrived at the venue.
The coup d’etat comes two days after the military declared martial law across the country after months of anti-government protests that left 28 people dead and ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra earlier this month.
The Thai military has staged 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932.
An economic hub for Southeast Asia, Thailand has been gripped by off-and-on political turmoil since 2006. The economy shrank 0.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, which is the first such contraction since 2011, and GDP contracted 2.1% in January-March from the previous three months.
Political gridlock has been the norm this year: Protesters blocked voting of an election held in February, and last week the country’s
Election Commission said that a general election scheduled for July 20 was “no longer possible” amid the turmoil.
Here is the U.S. government’s position, as stated by Assistant Secretary of State Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel
to Congress on May 20:
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