Thailand: 17 hours under a coup

Yesterday at 4pm, the Thai Army declared a military coup, taking control of Thailand until a new government can be formed and peace restored to the country. Since the protests against the government started in December 13, the country has been in turmoil, although you wouldn’t know it from talking to most people who put on a smile and tell us foreigners that everything is fine. 

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The coup leader – a man called General Prayuth Chan-ocha – has declared himself Prime Minister until the political parties can reach a compromise and retake parliament and prepare for elections. Rumour has it that the old PM, Yingluck Shinawatra, and her husband have already left Thailand.

When the Army takes control of a country, the rule book is trashed. None of the previous laws of the land have power and the Army, or the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC), gets to write the rules again from scratch. Prayuth’s PM-ship is Announcement Number 10. 

“In the first 16 hours of junta rule, military authorities have issued two orders and 19 announcements. Each is read several times over radio and TV stations, which otherwise are blacked out, under total military control, and playing only traditional music used for junta takeovers.” From the Bangkok Post

Announcement No. 14 repeated a martial law attempt to muzzle the mainstream media; there is also an order not to critcise the junta. Media operators were asked to report to the NPOMC today (23.05) and ISPs have been asked to  “keep track, monitor, stop the dissemination of online info”.

The traditional music blaring from the never-turned-off televisions at the neighbours’ houses only stops when Prayuth appears, in uniform and behind a desk, backed by three of his lieutenants to read the next Announcement.

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