Friday, May 23, 2014

World News: Thailand government dissolved in military takeover

What's going on in Thailand these days? The military seized power on Thursday in a bloodless coup, dissolving the government, scrapping the constitution and moving groups of protesters from both sides of the country's political divide who gathered in Bangkok, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Officials invoked the military's expanded powers Tuesday and issued more than a dozen edicts that included broad powers of censorship over the media, the Internet and threats to prosecute opponents. A nationwide curfew was established, and 18 government officials were ordered to report to the country's new governing military commission.

The Thai army dissolved the government and canceled the constitution, but the Senate would remain in place. The army also ordered the suspension of all television broadcasting and replaced programming with patriotic music between announcements. Thai PBS continued to broadcast for a few hours over YouTube before those transmissions also ceased.

CNN, BBC and other cable news channels were also taken off the air, but continued to report from Bangkok. The coup was the 12th since Thailand's absolute monarchy ended in 1932. The events disappointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said there's no justification for the military coup and urged the immediate restoration of civilian government and return to democracy.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the Pentagon is reviewing its military relationship with Thailand, including an ongoing military exercise, but no decisions have been made, the AP reported. Thailand, an economic hub for Southeast Asia, has been through political turmoil since 2006, when billionaire former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for Thailand's king.

The latest period of unrest started in November when demonstrators took to the streets to try and oust then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister. She dissolved the lower house of Parliament in December to ease the crisis, which later led to a weakened caretaker government. Since November, 28 people have been killed and hundreds injured, mostly in drive-by shootings and grenade attacks on protest sites.

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