Thai Army Chief declares Martial Law

Thai army chiefBangkok – Thai army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial rule today at 03.00 a.m. effective throughout the country. According to the chief is was imposed to keep opposing sides of society from clashing with each other or triggering civil war.

However, no curfew will be declared under the Martial Act of 1914 in any part of the capital or anywhere else for the time being.

The army chief, who replaced the caretaker government’s Center for the Administration of Peace and Order with an army-led peacekeeping command which he himself heads, called on Thai media to practice “self-censorship” to avoid possibilities of instigating social panic and turbulences.

A dozen TV stations, especially those known to be practically aligned with either the anti-government or pro-government side, were stopped under martial rule from airing political news reporting and commentary programs on temporary basis.

“Martial rule was meant to prevent further violence and bloodsheds among the Thais…We definitely will not allow any more bloodshed to spill on the Thai soil.”

“We can no longer afford to see the political conflict going on without end.”

“Given the martial law, all opposing sides will be summoned for talk and find a way to put an end to the conflict,” said Gen Prayuth.

The army chief assured that he will certainly manage to bring leaders of both anti-government and pro-government demonstrators to the negotiating table in bid to end the prolonged massive protests which he said had been feared to trigger bloodsheds and street riots.

He did not say how soon the anti-government protest leaders will meet and talk with the pro-government Red Shirt leaders.

Hordes of street demonstrators of both sides have continued to gather on Rajdamnern Avenue at the heart of the capital and Axa road in its western outskirts under watchful eye of army soldiers armed with assault rifles and handguns.

Given the martial rule, they were told to not move out of the spots where they have been peacefully gathering.

“Peace and order must be maintained before all conflicting sides may come to talk with each other to end the conflict. They would not come to talk if the situation remained as it had been earlier,” Gen Prayuth said.

The army chief called on all government personnel to carry out their duties as normal while martial rule remains throughout the country.

He said martial rule would not last for months ahead but declined to say exactly how long it will be effective.

According to the law in Thailand, a royal decree is needed to end martial rule, though it has been unilaterally declared by the army chief.

Acting Deputy Premier Nivatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, who is currently performing on behalf of legally deposed Premier Yingluck Shinawatra, suggested that the military maintain peace and order and provide maximum safety for people and that martial law only be imposed on temporary basis. Source: Xinhua

Photo: Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha