Thailand army has declared the martial law on early Tuesday to restore peace and order in the country. The Southeast Asian nation has endured years of political turmoil. Earlier this month, Yingluck Shinawatra was dismissed in a controversial court ruling that fueled political protests in Bangkok. The martial law was imposed amid growing concerns of violence due to pro- and anti-government protests.
Thailand army didn’t consult the government before imposing the law
Notably, Thailand has been without a functioning government since December, hurting government spending, deterring tourists and raising concerns among investors. Chief security adviser Paradorn Pattanatabut said that the army didn’t even consult the embattled government led by the new prime minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan. Immediately after the declaration, army vehicles and gun-wielding soldiers were positioned in the heart of Bangkok’s hotel and retail district.
The martial law prohibits protesters to march outside their protest sites. All the politically affiliated TV stations were asked to stop broadcasting until further notice. In case the army wants to broadcast something, all the radio and TV stations must stop their regular broadcasting to make room for army broadcasts. The law bans any publication or broadcast that can “incite unrest.” Moreover, the martial law gives soldiers the authority to search private property and seize items in the name of keeping peace.
Japan expresses grave concerns over Thailand’s turmoil
Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of the dismissed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and ex-prime minister ousted in 2006 coup, said Tuesday that the imposition of martial law should not “destroy” democracy. Shinawatra is a highly controversial figure in Thailand, and has been at the heart of the nation’s political divide. “Red Shirt” supporters of Shinawatra and Yingluck have warned of a civil war in case the country’s power is handed to an unelected leader.
Thailand’s key ally United States said the imposition of martial law should be “temporary” and asked all political parties to “respect democratic principles.” Thailand is hurtling towards recession. Japan has also expressed grave concerns at the political turmoil. Japanese companies have invested billions of dollars in the Southeast Asian country. Though the army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha assured that the law has been imposed to restore peace, concerns of a military takeover are mounting.