Thailand's army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, summoned the country’s political leaders, members of its election commission and senators on Wednesday to discuss a solution to the ongoing political crisis.
According to local news reports, the army chief slated the meeting for all rival parties at 1:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. EDT), following the imposition of martial law in the country Tuesday after months of political turmoil. Nearly 28 people have been killed and 700 have been injured since last November in riots, which have intensified after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her ministers were dismissed on May 7 by a constitutional court, which found them guilty of abusing power.
"General Prayuth [Chan-ocha] has called a meeting at the Army Club with all sides to talk about ways out of the country's crisis," Winthai Suvaree, deputy army spokesperson, told Reuters.
However, interim Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan will not attend the meeting on Wednesday but a separate meeting will be slotted with him later, Al Jazeera reported.
On Tuesday, Prayuth warned rioting factions that troops could take action against those using weapons and creating chaos for civilians, and called for protesters from different groups to engage in dialogue.
"We ask all sides to come and talk to find a way out for the country," Prayuth said Tuesday, after a meeting with government officials, Reuters reported.
"Certainly, it's not an outright military coup by definition because the caretaker government is still in office, but on the ground it looks like the military is in charge," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University, said, according to Reuters, adding: "He's taking a lot of risk, Prayuth, because the imposition of martial law puts him in a very tight spot ... The longer we do not see a resolution, the riskier it will become for the army."
Boonsongpaisan reportedly proposed Tuesday that the country conduct an election on Aug. 3, if all members of the election commission agreed to the date. The outcome of an election held on Feb. 2 was dismissed because the polling process was disrupted by protesters.
"The situation has changed now. We have martial law, therefore the Election Commission, the army and the government should talk first," Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a member of the election commission, told Reuters, adding: "I can't say yet whether an August 3 election will happen."