News just breaking that the Thai military has declared martial law nationwide.
AFP have a very brief story here and AsianCorrespondent will be live blogging it here . An announcement by the now military controlled TV stations is expected in the coming hour or so. Will update this post when the situation becomes clearer.
But it's not a coup. The army was careful to state that. FYI everything is completely normal. If there had been no announcement on TV, out here you wouldn't have even known it.
#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Armed soldiers are out for the first time in Bangkok but, at least in the short term, the move will probably make things safer. The good thing is that it means protesters are barred from marching. Suthep canceled plans to march around the city today, keeping all protesters at the rally site on Ratchadamnoen Nok. It previously looked like PDRC were gearing up to cause some serious problems ("civil disobedience", whatever you want to call it) in the lead-up to their latest deadline for an interim PM to be appointed by Monday. Last weekend I went to meet a friend at Don Muang airport and got stuck in traffic for like 2 hours b/c PDRC had closed both lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Rd. Several travelers were forced to walk long distances while carrying their luggage in the 40 degree heat to make their flights on time. Stuff like that can't happen under martial law.
Mind you I'm not saying martial law is a good thing in general, just that I feel safer with soldiers controlling the city as opposed to masked PDRC "security guards". It's ridiculous that these random dudes have been allowed to do whatever they've felt like for the last six months, intimidating journalists, beating and even stabbing people for moving cones to get their cars through, capturing police officers, closing public walkways, searching people (including travelers) on the street, etc. Uniformed police have been nonexistent.
However, I'm also thinking this is merely setting the stage for something else. If a new PM is appointed, the red shirts will now have to get past the military to move their protesters into central Bangkok, which is what they've been threatening for a while. It's an easy excuse to stop any and all protesters from mobilizing. Word is that protesters are already being blocked from joining the red shirt rally site in far west Bangkok.
A couple more links for those interested:
Govt aide describes it as "half a coup d'etat" (CNN)
Military order the immediate cessation of broadcasting to several community & satellite broadcasting stations (these are primarily political echo chambers that agitate the rabble on each side) (Asian Correspondent)
Acting govt call an emergency cabinet meeting (NNT)
So yes, it's not a coup, as at least in theory the caretaker govt is still standing, but it looks and smells and awful lot like one.
Your on-the-ground report was really good. I have been following all the news reports but you filled in some of the gaps. For example, I didn't know about the activities of the PDRC security guards. Martial law gives the military some pretty sweeping powers if they want to use them. I hope they don't. Stay safe.
#5 Joanne2014 has been a member since 20/5/2014. Posts: 2