Thai military takes over government, announces curfews and censors media

BY Ellen Rolfes  May 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM EST
Thai soldiers stand guard after army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha met with anti-government and pro-government leaders at the Army Club in Bangkok Thursday. Photo by Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images

Thai soldiers stand guard after army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha met with anti-government and pro-government leaders at the Army Club in Bangkok Thursday. Photo by Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images

Thai politicians gathered in a military facility Thursday for face-to-face talks to resolve differences between political rivals and to end violent protests, only to be surrounded by military and prohibited from leaving the building.

It was the start of the Thai military’s bloodless seizure of power since declaring martial law Tuesday. Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Thursday morning on television that the government had been dissolve and the constitution suspended.

Top government officials, including ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, were ordered to report to the new governing military commission, according to Reuters.

The military has imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for all citizens and has banned gatherings of more than five people. Should anyone violate the ban, the army has threatened a sentence of at least one year in prison.

The military has also imposed heavy media censorship. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that at least 14 partisan TV networks have been shut down and 3,000 unlicensed community radio stations have been ordered to close. The army is setting up a special committee to extend censorship to social media as well.