Thai troops Thursday sealed off one of the busiest roads in Bangkok to stop a planned protest a week after the country's government was taken over in a military coup.
Soldiers blocked roads near the capital’s Victory Monument, closed shops in the neighborhood and instructed people to leave, reports said, adding though police officials could not differentiate between protesters and the usual crowds at the usually chaotic intersection, the Thai military was present in large numbers to avert any protests. The move by the military followed scuffles Wednesday when protesters gathered at the monument and outnumbered the soldiers.
"If you do not have business here, please go home," an officer told onlookers, according to the Associated Press. Although the protests after the military coup have been without a proper leader, the protesters had reportedly planned to gather at the monument Thursday and call for a mass rally Sunday.
The military has said it will conduct elections once leaders from all sides come to an agreement and the protests stop.
"We will definitely have an election," Lt. Gen. Chatchalerm Chalermsukh, the army's deputy chief of staff, said according to AP, adding, "This will take some time. If you ask me how long it will take, that's difficult to answer."
"We neither have any ambition nor desire to cling to power," Chatchalerm said, adding the military could not conduct elections successfully with protesters waiting to get back onto the streets.
Thailand’s military has been criticized by international leaders, including those in the U.S., for keeping democratically elected leaders in detention and taking control of the government, but according to news reports, except for the curfew between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., nothing much has changed in the country's daily operations.