UK & World News

  • 23 May 2014, 7:03

Thai Army Takes Power In Military Coup

Thailand has woken up to its first day under military leadership since the country's army chief took control of the government following months of deadly clashes.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday said the move was to allow the country to "return to normal quickly".

The constitution is being suspended, and all cabinet ministers must report to the military, he said.

A nationwide curfew started at10pmlocal time on Thursday (2pm UK time), to last for seven hours.

The normally busy entertainment district of Patpongwas deserted after the curfew began.

Meetings of more than five people were also banned.

All TV and radio stations have been ordered to stop normal programmes and only broadcast army material.

After the curfew had begun, the army announced that social media would be blocked if it contained any content "provoking violence or opposing their military coup".

The US Department of Defence said it was reviewing military assistance and engagements with Thailand.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Thailand should restore its civilian government.

He said: "We are monitoring the situation on the ground very carefully.

"British nationals in Thailand or thinking of travelling to Thailand should monitor the FCO's travel advice, which will be continually updated as events develop."

Thai soldiers reportedly fired into the air to disperse thousands of pro-government Red Shirt protesters, who gathered in western Bangkok after the coup was announced.

In the past six months of violence, 28 people have been killed and the Thai economy has shrunk by 2.1%.

The coup - the country's 19th since the fall of absolute monarchy in 1932 - follows two days of meetings between rival political leaders that failed to break the deadlock.

Politicians at the talks, held at a heavily guarded military HQ in Bangkok, were seen being taken away by soldiers.

It was unclear whether they had been formally detained.

Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan - who replaced Yingluck Shinawatraafter she was removed from office by the Thai Supreme Court earlier this year - did not attend because he was busy, according to a government official.

General Prayuth said his forces would "provide protection" for foreigners in Thailand, which is visited by around one million Britons a year.

British ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent said: "British citizens should exercise extreme caution and follow travel advice and media updates."

On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moonurged thosae in control to have "full respect for democratic principles".

Red Shirt supporters of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a coup, and his sister Yingluck have been on the streets since November last year.

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