Thailand's army chief has declared that the military is taking control of the country's government in a coup d'etat, and said, in a televised statement, that the army would "restore order and push through political reform."
The leaders of both the pro-government "Red Shirt" and People's Democratic Reform Committee, or PDRC, factions were detained inside an army club where negotiations between the two were taking place. Earlier this week, the military declared martial law to restore the security situation and shut down the country's main television stations, divesting the government of its power to maintain peace. General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the army had been forced to take action after six months of violent protests between opponents and supports of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
"We are concerned that this violence could harm the country's security in general," he said, after declaring martial law. "In order to restore law and order to the country, we have declared martial law. I'm asking all those activist groups to stop all activities and cooperate with us in seeking a way out of this crisis."
The unrest began after former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of the Thai parliament last year while the anti-government movement is opposed to the involvement of anyone associated with Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed from office in 2006.
An interim prime minister, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, was installed after a court ordered Yingluck's removal for abuse of power. However, the leader of the pro-government "Red Shirts" or Puea Thai party, Jatuporn Prompan had previously warned that there would be civil war if the government was removed.
"It's fine . . . Our position is the same. If soldiers appoint a prime minister then we will escalate our rally. Stay calm, there has been no coup yet," he said.
The European Union, or EU, had called for "a clear timetable" for new elections in Thailand before the coup.
"The EU has consistently called for dialogue, a peaceful resolution of the political crisis and respect for democratic principles in Thailand," said Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief.