Following months of political instability and days of leadership limbo, Thailand's military officially announced Thursday evening that it had taken over the government, turning the non-coup into an official coup.
Military coups are nothing unusual in Thailand of course: By our count, there have been at least 11 successful ones since 1932. But how does a military coup happen in Thailand? We break down the steps behind this year's military takeover.
1. Declare martial law, deny a coup
Before dawn Tuesday morning, the Thai military declared martial law. Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was reportedly not informed, but the military was insistent that it was not a coup.
Many people were not convinced. "What sets this event off from previous coups is an attempt to make it appear much more under the law," Paul Chambers, a professor at Chiang Mai University’s Institute for South-East Asian Affairs, wrote in an e-mail to The Post. "But this is only a superficial bit of semantics."
2. Put troops on the streets
While daily life wasn't too disrupted for most people, the Thai army stationed troops in a number of key locations on Tuesday, including outside the national police headquarters and on a major road outside the luxury shopping mall Central World. Other checkpoints were set up on a number of key roads.
While political protests continued, other citizens seemed happy to see the soldiers, and many posed for photographs with them.
3. Begin a media crackdown
Of the 12 edicts the Thai military released Tuesday, at least five referred to some kind of censorship, according to the Associated Press. Over a dozen politically charged television stations were shut down in the hours after martial law was implemented, as well as many more community radio stations.
The army also took to social media to order a stop to messages that could provoke violence.
คำสั่ง กอ.รส 8/57ให้สื่อออนไลน์ระงับส่งข้อความปลุกระดม ยั่วยุ สร้างความรุนแรง ไม่เคารพกฎหมาย&ต่อต้านการทำงาน กอ.รส pic.twitter.com/MQwjVIpbJy— armypr_news (@armypr_news) May 20, 2014
And there were reports of political books being removed from stores:
4. Call peace talks
On Tuesday, the military called for peace talks between the two rival factions in Thai politics: The "Red Shirts" who support Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister and telecom billionaire now living in exile, and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted from the prime minister's office two weeks ago; and the "Yellow Shirts," who are in opposition to Thaksin and led by Suthep Thaugsuban.
Describing it as a "Peace and Order Maintaining Command," the army called political leaders in for talks Wednesday. The leaders were then sent home at the end of the day with what was described as "homework" by the military. Photos from inside the peace talks looked orderly, with rival factions calmly seated next to each other.
5. Declare coup, impose curfew, arrest political leaders
On Thursday evening, the Thai military proclaimed a military takeover in a nationally televised announcement. The constitution was suspended, the caretaker government dismissed and cabinet ministers ordered to turn themselves in. Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army, was declared temporary leader of Thailand.
A curfew was imposed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m, and all major broadcasters appeared to have been shut down amid unconfirmed rumors of an impending Internet shutdown. Soldiers went to the sites of both pro- and anti-government protesters, and some were reportedly detained. Many of the political leaders had headed to the second day of peace talks earlier in the day. Local media are reporting that at least some have been allowed to leave.