Thailand Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared to impose martial law

May 20, 2014 16:55 IST

Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared to impose martial law in Thailand on 20 May 2014.
The decision to impose martial law was taken after caretaker government headed by Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan refused to step down.

The Army chief signed the military statement imposing the martial law in accordance with the 1914 law that allowed military to intervene during crisis time.

The martial law was imposed in the country amid political crisis to preserve law and order in the country. The declaration also granted wide ranging powers to the army to enforce its decision.

The army, which is seen by many as sympathetic to anti-government protesters, has staged 11 coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

Background
Thailand has been gripped by off-and-on political turmoil since 2006 when the then Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The latest round of unrest started in November 2013 when anti-government protesters took to the streets to try to oust the then Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister. She dissolved the lower house of parliament in December 2013 in an attempt to ease the crisis, and then led a weakened, caretaker government with limited powers.

In May 2014, the constitutional court ousted Yingluck and nine cabinet ministers for abuse of power. But the move has done little to resolve the political conflict that pits the rural poor majority, who support Yingluck, against her opponents who are largely drawn from the urban middle and upper class.

Chronological events since 2007:
Dec 2007: Pro-Thaksin party wins election
Aug 2008: Thaksin flees Thailand
Dec 2008: Huge anti-Thaksin protests; court bans ruling party; Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power
Mar-May 2010: Huge pro-Thaksin protests; more than 90 killed over 10-week period
Jul 2011: Yingluck Shinawatra elected PM
Nov 2013: Anti-government protest
Feb 2014: Snap election held, but protesters disrupt polls; court rules polls invalid
May 2014: PM ordered to step down
May 2014: Army announces martial law

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