May.20 - Thailand's army declared martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government. Sarah Toms reports.
▲ Hide Transcript
▶ View Transcript
The Thai army makes it clear it's in charge of security.
This site will become more commonplace now the army's imposed martial law.
The surprise announcement came in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The military insists it's not a coup but to preserve law and order after months of pro and anti-government protests have left nearly 30 people dead.
(SOUNDBITE) (Thai) ARMY CHIEF, PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, SAYING:
"To maintain peace and order and bring back peace into all groups and all sides as soon as possible, I used law section 2 and 4 on Martial law 2457, to announce martial law all over Thailand."
The law comes with sweeping powers.
The caretaker administration was not told of the decision.
The army's secured television stations, like these....and it's told 10 satellite channels -- including ones run by rival political groups -- to stop broadcasting to prevent the "distortion of news".
Troops can also be seen stationed outside the government's security command centre, which oversees the authorities' response to the long-running political crisis. The military has ordered that it be dissolved and all government agency chiefs have been told to report to the army.
Soldiers have also taken steps to stop pro- and anti-government protesters from gathering at their usual rallying places. They've been told not to march anywhere to prevent clashes.
The streets are calm for now. But the deadlock between government supporters and opponents has got worse since a court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's removal earlier this month for abuse of power.
The dramatic step to impose martial law.... could add fuel to the fire, especially if these protesters see it as tantamount to a coup.