So much for insisting earlier this week that they were just imposing martial law and not overthrowing the government. It’s officially now a coup:
Thailand’s military has announced it is taking control of the government and has suspended the constitution.
In a TV statement, army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha vowed to restore order and enact political reforms.
The cabinet has been told to report to the military, TV broadcasting is suspended and political gatherings are banned. A nationwide curfew will operate from 22:00 to 05:00 local time.
On Tuesday the army imposed martial law. Talks were then held between the main political factions, but the army announced the coup on Thursday.
Political party leaders, including opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban, were taken away from the talks venue after troops sealed off the area.
Foreign media are reporting very rapid consolidation of power and the army focusing on breaking up protest camps in support of the government, even though the opposition protesters have been obstructing everything for six months.
The military is traditionally aligned with the faction currently in the opposition and last overthrew the ruling coalition during the 2006 coup. By some reckonings, this makes military coup number 19 since absolute monarchy ended in 1932.
The military leadership claims the coup was a necessary step because the elected government did not want to step down as part of crisis talks. All the political representatives were detained and carried off to barracks when talks failed to make progress, before the coup was announced.