Coup! (updated Monday)

Continuing coverage of Thailand under military rule. Today, the coup-makers start to win some powerful friends as they start a multi-billion baht payback to farmers. Meanwhile, detentions, releases and protests continue.

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Latest (Monday, May 26)

20:20

Farmers in Kalasin in northeastern Thailand show off the money they received today for rice pledged many months ago. YONGYUT PUANGPHET

Rice payments begin as promised.

From our online reporters

Indebted farmers celebrated on Monday as long-overdue payments began for pledged rice crops, with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) saying 90 billion baht would be paid out in the next month.

BAAC president Luck Wajananawat said the payments stemmed from the National Council for Peace and Order's decision to immediately approve payments to increasingly in debt rice growers who have waited many months for payments for grain pledged to the former government's policy rice scheme without any income.

Several of them are reported to have committed suicide.

The BAAC president said on Monday that the government owed over 800,000 farmers more than 90 billion baht and he thought that payments could be cleared within the next month.

18:10

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban was released three times today, once by the military, once on bail by the Criminal Court on insurrection charges and once again on bail by the same Court on murder charges. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

PDRC core members have had a busy day today after being released by the military. They were not allowed to go home, but were sent immediately to prosecutors who then took them to the Criminal Court. Here, according to our online reporters is what happened:

The Criminal Court on Monday granted temporary freedom to 25 core members of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) on bail of 100,000 baht each, reports said.

They included Suthep Thaugsuban, the PDRC secretary-general, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Chumpol Julasai, Puttipong Punnakant, Akanat Prompan, Thaworn Senneam and Luang Pu Bhuddha Issara.

They reported to the prosecution to hear charges including insurrection and in connection with the anti-government protests.

They each submitted 100,000 baht as collateral for bail.

Their bail requests were approved by the Criminal Court.

They are required to report to Department of Special Investigation (DSI) investigators for additional questioning and indictment in the Criminal Court on June 28.

Mr Suthep, however, had another appointment. Again, from our online reporters

Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), was indicted in the Criminal Court on charges of murder and attempted murders for allegedly ordering the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010, causing 98 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Update: He was released by the Court after putting up 600,000 baht for bail.

13:50

General Gen Prayuth Chan-och addresses the press after receiving his royal endorsement. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

In an another boost to the image of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Gen Prayuth Chan-och has received royal endorsement as its head. 

Our online reporters say Gen Prayuth officially received the royal command at a ceremony on Monday morning at a reception room on the second floor of army headquarters on Ratchadamnern Avenue.

There was tight security and no reporters were allowed to cover the ceremony.

Morning stories

I missed a day yesterday, so let's catch up.

Today, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is likely to win some friends among an important constituency: Thai rice farmers.

A farmer in Nakhon Ratchasima holds up her rice-pledging certificate which, starting today, will actually be worth real money. PRASIT TANGPRASERT

From a story by Lamphai Intathep and Chatrudee Theparat

Farmers waiting for delayed rice-pledging scheme payments can begin claiming their money from today, coup-makers announced yesterday.

The farmers were advised to bring their rice-pledging certificates to payment points set up at army and air force units nationwide this afternoon, said Col Nathawat Chancharoen, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) deputy spokesman.

The NCPO stressed that one of its most urgent policies was to find money as soon as possible for more than 800,000 farmers owed for rice under the deposed government's rice-pledging scheme, said Somchart Soithong, director-general of the Internal Trade Department.

In total, 92 billion baht was required to cover the cost of farmers' unpaid rice-pledging money, said Col Chatchai.

In another major development, former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was released from military custody as were a group of PDRC leaders. They were not entirely free, however.

Ms Yingluck was said by aides to be restricted in her movements, likely under some form of house arrest. The PDRC leaders, who include Anchalee Paireerak and Suriyasai Katasila, were taken before sunrise to prosecutors to face charges related to their six-month-long protest. They will likely be in court today and released on bail. (Latest: PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban has also been released and taken to the prosecutors along with four other top leaders.)

Twitter photo from Suriyasai Katasila showing anti-Yingluck-government leaders at the prosecutor' s office.

Meanwhile, more people are being detained by the junta.

From a report by our online reporters

A total of 42 individuals have been ordered to report to the National Council for Peace and Order on Monday, bringing the total number of people who were summoned before the NCPO to almost 250.

The NCPO on Sunday issued four separate orders summoning 42 more prominent figures to report at the Royal Thai Army auditorium in Thewes area, Bangkok, between 10am and 2pm.

Bangkok Post editor Phichai Chuensuksawadi leaves a meeting at the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) yesterday. 18 print media representatives were summoned for a "discussion." PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG

The 42 included mainly Thaksin Shinawatra's former classmates in Class 10 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, core members of the Pheu Thai Party, businessmen who have close ties with former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, supporters of the People's Democratic Reform Committee and academics.

Prominent journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk a senior reporter for the Nation was taken into custody on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Mr Pravit stood before the Army Club in Thewes. His mouth was sealed by adhesive tape and he closed his eyes and covered his ears with his hands as a symbol of censorship in Thailand.

"They might detain me, but they can't cage my conscience. This is how we're going to face the military junta through civil disobedience – by turning myself in," said the 47-year-old.

Members of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) on Sunday expressed "deep concern" over the detention of journalists.

At the same time, the military junta appears to be losing patience with those who opening oppose military rule and are about to use strong measures to better control the situation.

From a front-page Bangkok Post story by Wassana Nanuam and Lamphai Intathep.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) decided on Sunday to use a martial court to prosecute offenders in another move to reinforce its control over the political situation as more protests against the coup took place in Bangkok.

The NCPO announcement pinpointed those subject to the martial court. They are people committing crimes, facing lese majeste charges, creating security threats and defying its orders.

One anti-coup activist who could face a martial court is Sombat Boonngam who has defied the junta to catch him. Several protesters were wearing his face as masks yesterday. THITI WANNAMONTHA.

The coup allows judicial courts to function but wrongdoers in the cases it mentioned will be taken to the martial court, the announcement said.

The coup bans gatherings of more than five people for political purposes.

But protests against the military seizure continued for the third day, this time at Amarin Plaza near Ratchaprasong intersection and at the Victory Monument on Sunday.    

About 200 people gathered at Democracy Monument yesterday in support of the coup. One woman was quite enthusiastic about military rule, it seems. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

There was also a pro-military demonstration at Democracy Monument and more demonstrations of support are planned for today.

--------------------------------------------------

From start to finish: Our coverage of events after 1st declaration of martial law

Day 5: Saturday, May 24

20:45

More big news from our online reporters. This is what is known as a consolidation of power:

The Senate was dissolved on Saturday evening and more senior officials including the national police chief removed as coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha consolidated power.

The dissolution of the Senate means that all parliamentary authority rests with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) headed by the army chief.

Gen Prayuth announced that he had taken over the authority of the House and the Senate for the time being in case any actions required parliamentary approval.

The NCPO also announced on Saturday evening that Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew had been moved to an inactive post in the Prime Minister's Office.

Also moved to inactive posts were Tarit Pengdith, the head of the Department of Special Investigation, and Nipat Thonglek, the permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry. Both men had been seen as loyalists to the ousted government and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, the deputy national police chief, has been named the acting police chief. Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, another deputy national police chief, has been put in charge of the DSI, and Gen Surasak Kanjanarat, deputy permanent secretary for defence, has been named the defence permanent secretary.

17:55

Sondhi Limthongkul, a long-time leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)who led the seizure of Suvarnabhumi airport in 2008 turns himself in to martial law authorities. THANARAK KHOONTON

All day long people of summoned to what is now called the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) have been arriving at Army Auditorium. That list grew longer today as activists and academics were added.

Among the scholars are Thammasat lecturers Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Worachet Pakeerut and Sawatri Suksri (the latter two of the Nitirat or Enlightened Jurists group); Suda Rangupan, a former Chulalongkorn University lecturer, and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Kyoto University – who says flatly he will not turn himself in.

Another holdout is Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan. The former interior minister said he would not surrender to military figures who had seized power from the elected government.

"I insist that I will not bow down to the military. I will not take part in a meeting with a group of rebels because I am the Pheu Thai leader and the Interior Minister who has been appointed by the people," Mr Charupong wrote in a handwritten note to members of the Seri Thai, or Free Thai Movement, on his Facebook page.

"I intend to fight against all types of insurrection alongside Seri Thai. I'm safe and taking cover in the Northeast."

Protesters at Victory Monument this afternoon. The dispersed about 17:40pm but vowed to regroup late tomorrow morning at Ratchaprasong. ATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Meanwhile, scattered protests continue. The biggest is at Victory Monument where several hundred protesters are walking in circles aroung the Monument and many scuffles with soldiers have been reported.

This is the reason it is hard to find close up photos of those arriving at the Army Auditorium in Bangkok's Thewes area yesterday to answer a summons by the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC). The media was kept well away. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Let's begin the day with a look at some of the key figures who have been detained, starting with premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

From a front-page story in today's Bangkok Post

Ms Yingluck, who has hardly made any public appearances since she was stripped of her role as prime minister by the Constitutional Court, turned up at the Army Auditorium in Bangkok's Thewes area around noon after the coup-makers issued announcements demanding she and 154 others report yesterday.

The ex-prime minister spent about 15 minutes at the venue before she was "asked" to go to the 1st Division, King's Guard base, which is opposite the auditorium. She reportedly met army commander and NPOMC chairman Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha there.

According to the source, Ms Yingluck was subsequently detained after that at an army installation. Her entourage was told to bring back some of her clothes and necessary medicines. She was still being detained as of press time.

Most former cabinet ministers who also turned up yesterday in response to the summons were also detained in undisclosed locations.

The source said only those who have health problems were allowed to return home.

The 155 individuals summoned by the coup-makers are largely key Pheu Thai members, pro-government and anti-government protest leaders, and former high-ranking military and police officers known to have affiliations with Pheu Thai.

They have also been banned by the NPOMC from leaving the country.

In its 21st announcement, the NPOMC said the 155 individuals who were summoned must not travel abroad and they are required to report to the NPOMC or face arrest and prosecution.

Among the former cabinet ministers who turned up on Friday were former acting caretaker prime minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, former deputy prime minister Phongthep Thepkanchana, former energy minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal, former deputy defence minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa, and former deputy commerce minister Yanyong Phuangrach.

Those from Pheu Thai included Suranand Vejjajiva, Noppadon Pattama, Somchai Wongsawat, and Bhokin Bhalakula.

PDRC spokeswomen Anchalee Paireerak arrives at the Army Auditorium yesterday. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Anchalee Paireerak, Suriyasai Katasila and Nitithon Lamlau were among key figures from the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) who yesterday streamed into the auditorium.

Issara Somchai, who was not summoned to report to the NPOMC, said the PDRC leaders who were not detained would turn themselves in at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to acknowledge charges against them on Monday.

He said the move was in "good faith" to show that the PDRC leaders do not have any intention of fleeing and they will fight the charges in court.

Meanwhile, the army yesterday released former agriculture minister Yukol Limlaemthong, former tourism and sports minister Somsak Phurisisak and former industry minister Prasert Boonchaisuk. All had been detained since Thursday.

Mr Somsak said the army had taken good care of them.

Day 4: Friday, May 23

Thai soldiers at Democracy Monument last night after all protesters had left the area. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

21:30

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is reportedly being detained for two to three days. The curfew begins in 30 minutes. At least there is some TV (mainly Army Channel 5) tonight.

20:00

Bangkok protesters voice their displeasure with he coup, creating some headaches for the soldiers called in to keep order. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

The first protests against the coup in Bangkok have begun. They aren't big yet, but they are receiving a lot of coverage in the social media.

One important move that may counter resistance to the coup makers was begun today, however. General Prayuth has ordered government finance officials to work overtime to find ways to pay the farmers who pledged their rice to the previous government many months ago and still havent't been paid. More here:http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/411433/general-prayuth-gets-down-to-work

17:15 update

Today has been a big cleaning day as city workers aided by soldiers have been working to remove what has been left behind by departing protesters from all rally sites and around the city. It is a big job, especially around the anti-government sites which have been in place for months. Many of them were heavily defended with sandbags and tyres because of frequent bombing and shooting attacks.

An aerial view of the PDRC protest site outside the United Nations building shows there is still work to be done before it is completely cleared. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

Red-shirt protesters were hustled out of their protest site at Uttayarn Road by soldiers yesterday, leaving a big cleanup job. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

It has taken a big crew of soldiers and city workers all day to get control of the mess left at the PDRC Chaeng Wattana protest site. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD

17:00 update

Some afternoon news as reported by our online reporters:

The National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) has ordered TV Channels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 to resume normal programming on Friday evening, Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said.

Mr Takorn said the Thai PBS channel was still shut down.

The Pheu Thai Party opted for quiet mode on Friday, waiting for directions from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a party source said.

Thaksin's sister, former prime minister Yingluck, reported to the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) on Friday and is banned (along with 150 other people) from leaving the country.

The junta council released deputy party leader Pol Lt Gen Viroj Pao-in, Wan Mohamad Nor Matha and Chusak Sirinil from the barracks where they were being held. Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai and spokesman Prompong Nopparit remain in the army's custody.

12:40 update

Military guards outside the Army Club have been busy all day checking in those who have been ordered to report to the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC). PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has reported to the junta' s new National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC). Among the others responding to a NPOMC summons this morning were Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, former acting caretaker prime minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, former labour minister and director of the dissolved Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order,  former deputy commerce minister Yanyong Phuangrach, former energy minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal and Mrs Anchalee Paireerak, a leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee

10:25 update

Military junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared himself acting prime minister until the new coup regime announced Thursday can find someone to serve in the post full time, authorities announced Thursday night.

Announcement No.10 of the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) says Gen Prayuth, who is also army commander, will act as prime minister for administrative purposes.

Also, former cabinet ministers, including form acting PM Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan have begun arriving at the Army Club, summoned their by the OPOM. All together 114 leading figures from both sides have been summoned. Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra is among them.

There are reports that some of those detained yesterday have now been released.

From of online reporters, here are some of those who have been summoned:  Gen Panlop Pinmanee, Gen Thuanthong Intharathat, Gen Trairong Intharathat, Adm Kiartisak Damapong, Pol Gen Salang Bunnag, Maj Gen Sornchai Montreewat, Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa, ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat, Gen Phruek Suwanatat, Wattana Muangsuk, Sqn Ldr Sita Divari, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, Col Apiwan Wiriyachai, Panlert Baiyoke, Arisman Pongruangrong, Charan Dittha-apichai, Nisit Sinthuphrai, Suporn Atthawong, Sunai Chulapongsathorn, Ampon Kittiampon, Thitima Chaisaeng, Thaworn Senneam, Suriyasai Katasila, Nitithorn Lamlua, Seree Wongmontha, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, Plodprasop Suraswadi, Witthaya Buranasiri, Wannarat Charnnukul, Pracha Prasopdee, Sansanee Nakpong, Chaikasem Nitisiri, Korkaew Pikulthong and Dr Weng Tojirakarn.

Drama at the Army Club

What happened in the meeting room at the Army Club yesterday that led directly to the coup?

According to "military sources" interviewed by our reporters the abrupt power seizure took place after talks between the pro- and anti-government camps failed for a second day Thursday.

From today's front-page Bangkok Post story:

As the meeting began at 2pm, Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha told participants in stern tones that he could not afford to let the political crisis plaguing the country drag on without a solution.

"I am ready to take responsibility, no matter whether it is right or wrong," Gen Prayuth said, adding that he hoped all stakeholders will help the army improve the political situation.

Gen Prayuth mediated the meeting in the beginning but later asked them to continue their talks on their own until they could come up with an agreement.

"If you cannot finish your talks, you can't go home," Gen Prayuth was quoted as telling both sides.

No one in the main meeting room could leave, while a large number of armed soldiers was standing guard, said the source.

The mobile phone signals of participants were jammed and all headsets banned from being brought into meeting rooms, said the source.

After about 45 minutes of meeting in the private room, the participants were led back to the main meeting room, said the source.

After that Gen Prayuth invited UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan and Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of PDRC, to another private meeting for about one minute.

After that Gen Prayuth returned to ask Mr Chaikasem who represented the caretaker government one last time whether the caretaker cabinet would resign and Mr Chaikasem's answer was "no".

"As such, from now on I decide to seize power," Gen Prayuth was quoted as saying.

Heavily armed soldiers appear outside the Army Club and the seizure of power begins yesterday afternoon. CHANAT KATANYU

Gen Prayuth left the Army Auditorium, the venue of the talks, as soldiers moved in to detain all negotiators and whisked them away in passenger vans.

Representatives of the Senate and the Election Commission were later allowed to go free.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha leaves the Army Club after the political crisis meeting failed to come up with a solution. CHANAT KATANYU

After the meeting ended inconclusively, United Front for Defence of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leaders were reportedly whisked away in a van with soldiers carrying arms escorting them inside the vehicle

Meanwhile, People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban and other co-leaders such as Sathit Wongnongtoey and Akanat Promphan were also taken in another van with armed soldiers guarding them inside the vehicle.

They were reportedly taken to the 1st Infantry Regiment (King's Guard) on Soi Phahon Yothin 8 in Phaya Thai district of Bangkok.

Day 3: Thursday's stories

16:45: In a short, dramatic announcement, army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, seated next to the leaders of the armed force and police, said that because of the deteriorating security situation in which innocent life has been lost, injuries and property loss have occurred, the armed forces and police have assumed power.

Gen Prayuth said this was necessary to bring the situation back to normal.

All government agencies are to continue working normally. No weapons movements are allowed. Foreign relations are not affected.

Update: Say goodbye to the Peace and Order Maintaining Centre. It's now the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติ (คสช).

All political faction leaders are have reportedly been detained after talks to end the political crisis failed to come up with a solution.

Update: The coup was quite dramatic, right in front of the media. Troops suddenly sealed off the area surrounding the Army Club and no one was allowed to leave. It is not yet clear if media members have been allowed out.

Soldiers move quickly to seal off the Army Club where the crisis meeting was being held, temporarily preventing members of the media from leaving, including our photographer. CHANAT KATANYU

Update: There is an unconfirmed report that Gen Prayuth intends to keep the opposing political leaders together until they start cooperating to find a political solution, until "they learn to love each other".

Soldiers are now at the UDD site at Aksa road trying to get the protesters there to disperse.

Update: This one is important. Nationwide martial law has been announced with a 10pm curfew.

Update: Some UDD leaders at their rally site have reportedly been detained.

Update: This is important too. TV and radio stations have been ordered to stop regular programming and link to military channels to air announcements.

Update: PDRC core leader Luang Pu Bhudda Isara has reportedly been detained at Chaeng Wattana. Military leaders want protesters to go home and will certainly get their way. Red shirts are reportedly leaving the Aksa site and while PDRC protesters are still massed in the Ratchadamnoen area, they will likely start moving out too, although the curfew may prevent that from happening tonight.

Luang Pu Buddha Isara is detained at his Chaeng Wattana rally site. All protesters have now left the area. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD

Update (19:55): The National Peace Keeping Committee (NPKC) has ordered caretaker cabinet ministers to report to authorities. All protesters have been ordered home and transport is being provided. No public assemblies of more than five persons are being permitted. Interestingly, while TV channels are now longer broadcasting directly, some like Thai PBS, continue to do so through YouTube. The BTS skytrain and MRT underground service will shut down from 9pm Thursday following the curfew announcement by the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council.

Buses at the Royal Plaza waiting to pick up departing PDRC protesters. KRIT PHROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKHON

A soldier helps a PDRC protester to a waiting bus. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Commuters pack the BTS trying to get home before the 10pm curfew. The BTS ended service at 9pm, but the army is, necesssarily, giving travellers more time to get home. PHRAKIT JANTAWONG

Update (21:30) Well, we are still online. There were rumours the internet would be cut at 9pm, but that hasn't happened. Some additional news: The constitution has been suspended -- temporarily apparently. The Senate, independent agencies and courts are still functioning, however. Acting caretaker prime minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and 17 other cabinet members have been ordered to report to the military authorities tomorrow and apparently will do so at 9am. All schools, public and private, have been ordered closed for three days. And outspoken former cabinet minister Chalerm Yubamrung has been detained.

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Martial law has not resulted in the shutdown of the opposing rally sites, but demonstrators have been told not to hold marches. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Before we begin covering today's events, let's update what happened on Day 2

General Prayuth assigns homework

From a story by Post reporters

High-level talks (with parties involved in the poltical conflict) were called and chaired by army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, a day after he declared martial law.

Five points emerged from the crisis meeting as a possible solution to the political stalemate.

The issues are: whether there should be elections before reform; if reform should precede elections; whether an interim prime minister can be appointed; if the street protests should end; and whether the Senate should be in charge of resolving the political conflict.

The participants said they would go back and talk to their respective sides before returning for a second meeting Thursday at 2pm.

A source said the participants were assigned "homework" focusing on five issues which will provide the groundwork for Thursday's talks.

Strike continues despite martial law

Here  is something to watch today. How with Gen Prayuth react if the strike does take place?

From a story by Post reporters

The State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation will proceed with a strike today despite martial law being in force.

The confederation, allied with the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, is calling for a nationwide, five-day strike to put pressure on the caretaker government to step down, Khomsant Thongsiri, secretary-general of the confederation said.

Forty-six state enterprise labour unions are members of the confederation.

Mr Khomsant said union members will stop work and join the PDRC' s rally today. If the Senate installs an interim prime minister on Monday the strike will come to an end, but if it fails to do so, the strike will continue and participation at the rally will increase. 

He said the rally will comply with the rules of martial law and the constitution, adding that at least 70-80% of all the state enterprise employees are expected to join the protest. He said state enterprise workers can exercise their rights to take leave from work to participate in the rally.

Shinawatra family still in country

From a story by  Aekarach Sattaburuth & Patsara Jikkham

Pheu Thai member Somchai Wongsawat dismissed widespread social media reports that he and his wife Yaowapa, or fellow former premier Yingluck Shinawatra had slipped out of the country.

Mr Somchai was speaking to reporters following reports that Shinawatra family members and some cabinet ministers had fled abroad or gone to stay close to the northern border for fear of being arrested following the declaration of martial law on Tuesday.

The former prime minister said he has not fled the country to Cambodia as claimed by reports, and Ms Yingluck was still in Thailand, but he declined to say where she was.

Mr Somchai said he sometimes goes to Chiang Mai to visit his daughter who works as a prosecutor there.

There have been no problems for him travelling anywhere and the military is not monitoring his movements, he added.


Media crackdown continues

By Tuesday the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the army had shut down 2,000 unlicensed community radio stations plus 1,000 licensed stations.

The army also ordered at least 11 cable and satellite TV stations to stop broadcasting, pending further notice.

Day 2: Wednesday' stories

20:00  The conflict resolution meeting hosted by Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha last more than two hours and while no agreement was reached, the were some positive developments, not the least of which being that the participants agreed to meet again tomorrow.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, centre, leads security agency figures, including national police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, second left, and navy commander Adm Narong Pipattanasai, second right, from the Army Club on Wednesday after holding the first round of talks with seven parties to try to end the political conflict. CHANAT KATANYU

Here is a report from our online reporters:

Talks to end crisis not over, but signs positive

The parties involved in the political conflict have agreed that the crisis must end quickly after talks with the army chief to find a common solution.

After more than two hours of talks at the Army Club, the meeting brokered by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha ended with at least one positive sign.

"All conflicting parties want to see a solution soon. They want to see happiness return as soon as possible,'' army spokeswoman Col Sirichan Ngathong said.

The participants left the club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, which is the headquarters for the Peace and Order Maintaining Centre, with a day to reconsider their positions before going back for another round of talks on Thursday.

No agreement yet, but it has to be positive that member of opposing sides (red-shirts top, PDRC bottom) were in the same room and talking to each other. POOL photo.

They put their stances on the table and will return to the venue in an attempt to thrash out their differences, she said.

Col Winthai Suwaree, another army deputy spokesman, said a good sign in the first round of talks was that no side showed opposition to the differences of opinion.

He cautioned that the attempt to bring the country out of the crisis might not be possible overnight and there was no guarantee that the solution will be reached on Thursday.

Representatives from the caretaker government, the Pheu Thai Party, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Democrat Party, the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the Election Commission and the Senate were called to the meeting by Gen Prayuth after he declared martial law on Wednesday.

Col Winthai said the army chief did not influence the meeting and offered solutions.

"The floor was opened for all parties with the army chief listening without making any proposal,'' he said.

The army chief and all parties were tight-lipped after the meeting.

12:30

A very serious-looking and well-guarded Suthep Thaugsuban leaves for the meeting with the POMC. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

In what is likely to be the big story of the day, the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC) has called a 1:30pm meeting of leaders of groups and agencies involved in the current political conflict. They include leaders and representatives of the caretaker government, the UDD, PDRC, the Phue Thai party, the Democrat party, the Senate and the Election commission. Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will chair the meeting.

Early morning story

Let's get up to date this morning with excerpts from today's Bangkok Post and from bangkokpost.com.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha insists martial law was necessary to prevent additional bloodshed. PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG

Why was martial law declared at this time?

From a story by Wassana Nanuam and Patsara Jikkham

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared martial law because he wants to use it as a lever to get all sides in the political conflict to negotiate and break the deadlock, according to an army source.

The army chief also wants to prevent any further violence and to respond to criticism that the army has failed to stop violence during the six-month long anti-government protests, in which 28 people have been killed and more than 700 injured.

The source said Gen Prayuth decided to declare martial law without consulting other armed forces leaders or the permanent secretary for defence because intelligence reports had indicated war weapons would be used to instigate further violence.

Gen Prayuth is insistent that there must not be any further loss of life so made the decision on Sunday to draft an announcement to declare martial law, the source said.

The army chief informed his close aides and relevant military unit commanders on Monday at 7pm. Soldiers on the ground were told around midnight and were sent to several key spots including television stations at 3am yesterday when martial law took effect, the source said.

What are the opposing sides saying about negotiations?

There has not been much from the PDRC on negotiations. In fact, it sounded much like "business as usual".

From our online reporters:

Mr Suthep praised Gen Prayuth’s decision to impose martial law and asked supporters to give moral support to the military while addressing the crowd at the rally stage on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on Tuesday night.

Soldiers are present near the rally sites of the PDRC, shown here near Government House, and the red-shirts on Uttayarn Road, but they have not interfered with activities at either site. WEERAWONG WONGPREEDEE

However, he insisted the PDRC will stick to its protest schedule, saying that demonstrators will on Friday march from Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Sukhumvit Road between 5pm and 9pm and also on Saturday and Sunday to undisclosed locations.

Mr Suthep said the PDRC would declare "the people's victory" on Monday.

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan seemed much more open to negotiations, but only under strict conditions.

From our online reporters:

Red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan said on Tuesday he was prepared to talk with political opponent Suthep Thaugsuban if army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha agreed to mediate the meeting.

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, at the microphone, says he is willing to negotiate, but remains adamant that an election is the only way to solve the political conflict. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUL

Mr Jatuporn, chairman of the red shirts' umbrella group, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, told supporters at the Uttayarn Road rally in western Bangkok that he “had no problem” with talking with Mr Suthep, but any such meeting must be based on democractic principles.

“I and my group have no personal conflict with Suthep Thaugsuban, PDRC secretary-general, or any individual in the amaart (elite) network," said Mr Jatuporn.

Mr Jatuporn insisted that a general election remains the only acceptable solution that will end the political conflict and satisfy everyone.  

He proposed a referendum to allow the public to decide whether they wanted reform before or after an election.

What is the caretaker government saying about the martial law declaration?

From today's main Bangkok Post story:

Acting caretaker premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan insisted the army is required to abide by the constitution in maintaining law and order.

He called on the military to keep to a single standard when handling groups with different political leanings.

"The [caretaker] government must still do its administrative duty as required by the charter," he said, adding that he expected to hold talks with Gen Prayuth this week.

Caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri said the army chief is duty-bound to inform the caretaker government immediately of its actions. The government is now waiting to see what the military will do next, he said.

"It's fine that Gen Prayuth has declared martial law. But he still works under the command of the [caretaker] government," he said, adding that martial law affords the military more administrative power than it does civilian authorities.

Day 1: Tuesday's stories

AFP was quick to get out the story. We'll have more shortly.

Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha on nationwide television just after 6am tells the nation not to panic and martial law was declared to restore order.

Evening update

Day 1 of martial law is almost complete. Most people seemed to accept that the army could play a positive role in ending the long-running political conflict – or at least in preventing it from deteriorating into serious violence.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban formally returns the Government House compound to military and police representatives. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Both the rival PDRC and the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) seemed to accept the military's role and not to resist it. As a goodwill gesture, PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban led a ceremony to return all of the Government House compound to the military and the police.

Both opposing sides vowed to continue their rallies, however, and they had very different ideas on what should happen next. PDRC leaders called on the Senate to continue efforts to appoint a neutral prime minister. The UDD said an election, as early as possible, was the only way out and they would strongly resist an appointed prime minister.

This afternoon Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the new all-powerful Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC), talked to the media. Here, from our online reporters, is some of what he said.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, together with the heads of the Armed Forces and the police, talks with the media after their meeting with heads of government agencies. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Gen Prayuth said on Tuesday he will definitely not allow further bloodshed in the continuing political conflict.

The army chief was speaking following a meeting with heads of government agencies on Tuesday  afternoon after declaring martial law nationwide in an announcement at 3am today.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the new all-powerful Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC), said on Tuesday said the army's action was necessary for the sake of national security, to end violence. He said 28 people had been killed and more than 700 injured.

It had reached a point where the military must come out to "suppress armed elements and war weapons," he said.

Gen Prayuth gave an assurance that only some sections of the Martial Law Act would be enforced, to ensure the safety of the lives and property of the people. Other provisions would not be enforced because they woud have widespread impact and cause future problems.

The army chief said he could not say for certain how long martial law would remain in force. It would depend on the situation.

Asked if martial law could lead to a full-scale coup, he replied: "Who would answer a question like that?"

Martial law would be lifted after the situation had improved, he said.

Gen Prayuth said he would definitely not allow further bloodshed on Thai soil.

He said parties in the political conflict, and all others concerned, particularly the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), would be invited to meet for talks. It was necessary that they take part in a process to find ways out of the conflict.

He also said he wanted the protesters to go home.

The army chief insisted that all sides must stop all activities that could provoke violence.  If the violence  continued, there would never be any talks, he said.

10:50

Ten satellite TV channel have been ordered to stop broadcasting. Many are associated with one political group or the other. They are MV5, DNN, UDD, AsiaUpdate, P&P, 4Channel, BlueSky, FMTV, TNEWS,
ASTV.

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan (speaking centre) tells supporters at Aksa road to remain calm. This cannot yet be termed a coup, he said. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Thus far, the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has taken the declaration of martial calmly. Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan has even told his members gathered for a mass rally at Aksa road to greet soldiers with smiles. It is not a coup, he said, and the caretaker government remains. But they will monitor the situation very closely.

Army invokes martial law

The Royal Thai Army on Tuesday declared martial law across the crisis-gripped kingdom to restore order following months of anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded.

The military statement was signed by army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha. It cited a 1914 law that gives it authority to intervene during times of crisis, and said it had taken the action because on-going mass rallies between political rivals "could impact the country's security and safety of the lives and properties of the public."

An announcement broadcast on army-run TV Channel 5 said martial law had been invoked "to restore peace and order for people from all sides", stressing that the move "is not a coup" .

"The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal," it added.

Soldiers were outside state-run Channel 11 this morning. PORNPROM STRABHAYA

The army said in a statement that the military had taken the action to ``keep peace and order' ' and soldiers entered several private television stations in the capital.

An army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, told the US news agency, The Associated Press, "This is definitely not a coup. This is only to provide safety to the people and the people can still carry on their lives as normal."

The army has staged 11 successful coups since the 1932 revolution. AFP

Some brief facts about martial law:

Note: You can see a translation of the 1914 law here:http://www.thailawforum.com/laws/Martial%20Law.pdf

Martial law gives military authorities wide-ranging powers. The army is allowed to use force to suppress unrest, of course, but large gatherings can also be prohibited. So far, the opposing PDRC and red-shirt demonstrators have not yet dispersed from their rally sites, but it is still early. (8:00am: PDRC core leader Sathit Wongnongtoei has just told protesters not to pack their bags. The constitution remains and with it their right to assemble. He says, at the moment at least, their rally is not affected by martial law. Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan has made similar statements to his rally. 8:50 The military has ordered the protest groups not to move out of their sites, but it hasn't (yet) ordered them to disperse.)

Soldiers man a checkpoint next to the Taweewattana canal very near the red-shirt rally site. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Red-shirt members carry out their daily activities at their Aksa road rally site. They have not been ordered to leave. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Martial law authorities also have the power to censor information and control the media. Soldiers are now present at many media outlets throughout the city of Bangkok.

Curfews are also possible if needed.

With martial law, the military takes over the function of protecting law and order. Thus, the caretaker government' s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has been disbanded. The caretaker government, however, still appears to be in place.

CAPO has been replaced with the army-run Peace-Keeping Command Centre (PKCC) with Gen Prayuth in control. Our online reporters say that "the PKCC declared it has taken control of all security operations, nationwide – the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), Royal Thai Police Office, army, navy, air force, Interior Ministry and relevant government agencies."

Related search: Thailand, martial law, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha

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