As it happened: Thailand coup

Key Points

  • Thailand's army chief has announced that the military is taking control of the government
  • Cabinet ministers have been told to report to a military base north of Bangkok
  • All TV and radio broadcasting has been suspended; showing only army bulletins
  • Political gatherings of more than five people have been banned
  • A nationwide curfew is in operation from 22:00 to 05:00 local time
  • All times BST

    Dramatic developments in Thailand as the army chief gives a televised address to say the military has seized power, intending to restore order and enact political reforms.

    Army chief

    Moments before, soldiers sealed off the venue in Bangkok where political factions had been holding talks for a second day and took away the leaders.


    Thailand has suffered months of political turmoil, which earlier this month culminated in the court-ordered removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for alleged abuse of power.

    11:47: Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    says Thailand is a polarised society in many ways and the possibility of violence and unrest will be a source of concern for many Thais.


    General Prayuth Chan-ocha said in his televised statement that the security forces needed to seize power "in order for the country to return to normal quickly".


    "All Thais must remain calm and government officials must work as normal," Gen Prayuth also said.


    The army's move apparently follows the failure by Thailand's rival political factions to reach a compromise during two days of military-mediated talks in Bangkok. But Thailand's military has a long history of forcibly shaping Thai politics through power seizures.

    Thai soldiers in Bangkok on 22 May 2014

    Thai soldiers move on to the streets of Bangkok following the army chief's announcement

    Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

    : No more pretending: #Thailand military coup is really a coup. Careful now as military tries to censor media coverage.


    BBC's @JonahFisher in Bangkok told BBC Outside Source radio programme that various protest leaders have been detained, and it is not clear where they've been taken - soldiers are now trying to clear journalists from scene at Army Club, where talks were taking place.


    Reuters quotes an army general as saying the military will "send troops and vehicles to help protesters leave all rally sites".


    The markets may welcome the coup, according to the research company Capital Economics, as it "reduces uncertainty about the immediate outlook and, in particular, the possibility that the political standoff would turn much more violent".


    "For these reasons it could actually be positive both for Thailand's economy and financial markets in the near term," its chief Asia economist Mark Williams said. But he said the coup would do "nothing for Thailand's reputation among global investors, or indeed tourists".

    Asian Correspondent news service

    tweets: #THAILAND LIVE: Post-coup censorship looks limited to domestic TV & radio; Internet ok, foreign TV ok … #thailandcoup

    Phithak in Bangkok

    emails: I am in Thailand and I have lived in Bangkok more than 20 years. Everything is still fine. I live in the business area Sathorn. Many people panic but not me as I have faced this situation twice in my life and I know how to live with it. No fire no guns yet.

    Jonathan Head BBC News, Bangkok

    tweets: That was the most public coup most of us will ever see. Soldiers sealing off a talks venue in front of dozens of cameras. #Thaicoup

    Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    tweets: Scrum as protest leaders taken way from army club. Shortly after coup declared.

    Reporters outside Bangkok's Army Club
    Saowichit in Sukhothai, Thailand

    emails: This is a very stupid crisis. The poor have no voice. The coup is dominated by first class people who call themselves Red Shirt.


    Reuters quotes a spokesman from the "Red Shirt" pro-government protest movement as saying soldiers have fired into the air to disperse thousands of their activists gathered at a protest site in Bangkok's western outskirts. Troops also detained one activist leader, he said.

    Jin in Bangkok, Thailand

    emails: We earlier knew that the conclusion must be coup. We are waiting for this situation that will give us a righteousness to stage a revolution to change our society.


    Thailand's army has historically been active in the country's politics - there have already been 11 coups and seven attempted coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, giving it the dubious accolade of being one of the world's most coup-prone countries.

    12:26: Breaking News

    The Thai army announces a nationwide overnight curfew, from 22:00 to 05:00 local time.

    Mick Dean in Wichian Buri, Thailand

    emails: Thailand will carry on as it always does. Countries work despite politicians, not because of them. In England I was conservative with both an upper and lower case C, but Thailand has an established system from infant school to death to keep the bottom 95% of the population subjugated to the Bangkok elite. Even I can see the iniquity of the system.

    Pop in Bangkok, Thailand

    emails: Despite the crisis, the war between the reds and anti-reds, (I'm none of these sides), I thought that it was at least the path towards democracy. But the coup is a big failure. It's like we are walking back and back. I was so upset and frustrated that I was crying. Why does the military abuse my voice and my vote?


    Reuters reports an army spokesman as saying all TV and radio stations must stop normal programming and broadcast only army material.

    Eva Johnson in Pattaya Thailand

    emails: We live in Thailand and this is our second experience of a military coup. People need to know that we are always safe here when there is any unrest, political or otherwise. Only a few areas of Bangkok are usually affected. Everywhere else in the country is unaffected in general. When foreign governments issue warnings, all this does is damage this country's economy, substantially. Not good for Thailand. The world needs to know this.


    The current crisis in Thailand stems from a deep political divide in Thailand - between mostly rural, often poor, supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and an urban middle class who object to what they see as his continuing influence in Thai politics. Read more about what led up to the coup in our piece here.

    Zapata in Thailand

    emails: All the TV stations have gone off and we are all in the dark about what is going on. Worrying times for Thailand after it looked very possible that Thais would get a people's government.


    There have been reports of soldiers clearing anti-government protest camps, but so far the military seems to be avoiding violence:

    A Thai soldier holds hands with a member of the pro-government "red shirt" group at an encampment
    David Bell in Bangkok, Thailand

    emails: I drove through the anti-government protest site about an hour before the coup was announced. There was no sign of anything happening and no extra troops visible. The military has been forced to step in as the police have been unwilling or unable to stem the violence by pro-government supporters.

    12:55: Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    reports: What we're hearing is that soldiers have moved rapidly to consolidate their position, moving in on the pro-government "red shirt" camp on the outskirts of Bangkok. They are also moving towards the anti-government demonstrators' camp in the centre of town.

    12:55: Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    says the curfew means the military is obviously making efforts to make sure there is no immediate response to its announcement. Those people who voted for what is still the elected government here will feel extremely annoyed and frustrated by what has happened. Most people are expecting the "red shirts" to rally now and are extremely concerned about the possibility of confrontation.

    Scott Heidler, Al Jazeera correspondent in Bangkok, Thailand

    tweets: #Thailand Yellow Shirt protest camp packing up. Man on the stage telling people to leave. #ajenglish

    Clio Van Wildernis in Bangkok, Thailand

    emails: The army says it has integrity and people should respect it. But it does not respect the majority of people who feeds them.

    The BBC's Outside Source programme

    tweets; AUDIO: "I'm afraid we're witnessing death of Thai democracy as we know it" - political blogger @Saksith on #ThaiCoup

    Kendya Goodman in Bangkok, Thailand

    emails: This coup will undoubtedly be like all of the rest - a big show then it all goes back to normal and another issue is swept under the rug.


    Reuters reports that the army has told political protesters to go home - and has said the military will provide transport for them.


    Members of one pro-government "Red Shirt" protest camp could be seen leaving the site on the outskirts of Bangkok with their belongings:

    Members of the pro-government "red shirt" group carry their belongings as they walk past Thai soldiers
    13:20: Breaking News

    Thailand's military announces it has suspended the country's constitution, hours after declaring a coup d'etat.

    Patrick Fidler in Hua Hin, Thailand

    emails: All the domestic TV stations are off air, displaying only the military declaration. All the foreign satellite channels are also off the air, including BBC, FOX, RT... We are totally isolated without news except for The Internet appear so far to be unaffected.

    Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    tweets: Gridlock in Bangkok. Hard to tell how much of it is coup related.


    Why is it that Thailand's army has been so active in the country's politics? Read more about the Thai army's pivotal role in the country's politics in our explainer here.

    David in Phuket, Thailand

    emails: All quiet in Phuket. Military run TV station providing assurances in English language that all foreigners will be protected and treated with respect. No need to change daily activities at this point.


    The military has ordered acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and his cabinet ministers to report to a military compound in Bangkok.

    John Hanon in Jomtien, Thailand

    emails: It is the only way to get out of the current impasse. Reforms, cleaning out the Shinawatra and the old clique... and then Thailand may stand a chance.


    Soldiers have been erecting roadblocks in some parts of Bangkok, including this one near an anti-government protest camp:

    Thai soldiers stand guard outside the main camp-site of anti-government protesters in Bangkok
    Sirithep Vadrakchit in Samut Sakhon, Thailand

    emails: I have concerns now that this act will cause further damage to our economy and also decrease the confidence among international partners. I am also depressed that our country has gone nowhere since the last coup d'etat that ousted Ex-PM Thaksin from office and started our country's political turbulence. Thai army is still holding too much power and controls civilian government.


    The army has now banned "political groupings" of more than five people. AFP reports an army spokesman as saying "anyone who violates the ban will be subject to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht (£180: $300) fine, or both".

    Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    tweets: 19.47 CNN and BBC off air in Thailand. Aljazeera still on air.

    Jonah Fisher BBC News, Bangkok

    tweets: @BBCWorld tonight in Thailand.

    A television screen displaying the Thai army's message

    Watch key video moments from Thailand as news of the military coup unfolded.

    Rattaphong in Lamphun Thailand

    emails: I'm 25 and I've seen two coups with my own eyes. That's why this does not surprise us that much. Some people here in Thailand are actually happy about it because they believe the politicians and mob leaders are the root of all problems in this country. So they're glad the military took them all away. Some other people, however, are strongly against it. They believe that this coup won't solve anything. Just like the others. And will only create even more unrest among people. I think this coup might put our country's conflict on hold for a while. But this won't be the end of it. And I am very positive we can expect another and bigger mess in future.

    Hannah Hindstrom, journalist, Chiang Mai

    tweets: Twitter now main source of news in #Thailand. Let's see how long it lasts... #ThaiCoup

    Steve Lai, Channel News Asia

    tweets: Reports coming in that caretaker Thai PM is at US Embassy, possibly planning to set up government in exile.

    A pro-government demonstrator cries as she leaves the demonstration site after soldiers staged a coup Thursday, May 22

    Demonstrators from both sides of Thailand's political divide have been ordered to leave their protest sites, causing anguish for some.


    Dr Liam McCarthy, a South East Asia expert at Nottingham Trent University, says that while "military intervention always appears unpalatable... the current political climate raises the possibility of an equally unpalatable alternative".


    "In the face of escalating tensions, Prayuth has taken a rather paternal role, intervening before it gets worse," Dr Liam McCarthy says.

    Screenshot of Thai TV

    This is what has reportedly appeared on all TV channels in Thailand. It reads "National Peace and Order Maintaining Council", which is the name of the ruling military body.

    14:37: Mark Harris in Bangkok

    emails: Just witnessed a small anti-coup protest outside Bangkok Arts Centre (about 6.50pm Bangkok time)... They had hoped to be meeting the EU ambassador tomorrow but they said it is now too late. No army or Police were in evidence. Traffic was very heavy and transport crowded.

    Julian Cowburn in Koh Chang

    texts: All satellite TV channels are now offline too. There's no BBC or CNN or anything else - just military badges and what sounds like military music.


    The US Embassy in Bangkok has published an emergency message to American citizens in Thailand on its Facebook page. It warns them to "stay alert, exercise caution, and monitor media coverage". It also advises citizens to "avoid areas where there are protest events, large gatherings, or security operations" and to "follow the instructions of Thai authorities".

    Suthinee Techawong in Nakhonsawan

    emails: There are no soldiers here. But the curfew will still be active anyway. I am kind of fed up with this kind of coup. It has occurred over and over. And it looks like nothing could solve the problem between the two political powers. They just keep fighting by using their people to fight one another. I just hope this is going to end very soon.


    We've produced a handy 60 second video guide to the background behind Thursday's military coup.

    Adam Beardsmore in Bangkok

    tweets: Turn on the TV to find the same music on every channel and the text 'national peace and order maintaining council'. Still beats Thai soaps.


    The BBC's Jonah Fisher says the army is providing buses for demonstrators leaving protest sites around the capital Bangkok.

    Anti-government demonstrators wait for their cars with their belongings as they leave their demonstration site after soldiers staged a coup Thursday, May 22

    Darkness now in Bangkok as demonstrators continue to pack up and leave protest sites around the capital, under the military's watchful eye.


    The UN's human rights office has warned the Thai military of its "obligation under international human rights law" now it has taken charge of the country.


    "We urge the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the fundamental human rights are respected," Ravina Shamdasani, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman, is quoted by Reuters as saying.


    French President Francois Hollande has condemned the military takeover in Thailand. In a statement he called for "an immediate return to constitutional order and the organisation of an electoral process". He also asked for the rights and freedoms of the Thai people to be respected.

    A Thai soldier stands guard at the Democracy Monument after a coup in Bangkok May 22

    A Thai soldier stands guard at the Democracy Monument in the centre of Bangkok. There is now just over half an hour until the curfew begins.


    The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Bangkok says the military could not have planned the coup any better. It got the main protest leaders into one room before detaining them and making the televised statement.

    Achitsak Pacharawaronnwich, Thailand

    emails: The situation here seems more darkened and blinded than originally thought a few hours ago. The TV station including the number one satellite broadcaster in Thailand's territory, True Visions, has been now switched off. At this moment, people are totally blinded. No information can be shared. It looks like Bangkok is now in truly 'shutdown' mode. There is also a rumour that Line, the most popular chatting application, is going to be shutdown as now it works as the only fastest means of communication for all people.

    Nick Parkinson in Bangkok

    texts: There is very heavy traffic on the roads. There is no physical presence of either the military or protesters. Everyone on the roads will struggle to make the curfew in this traffic!


    The value of Thailand's currency, the Baht, fell against the dollar after the coup was announced. By that time the Thai stock exchange had already closed trading, and it insists it will reopen for business on Friday.

    16:00: Breaking News

    The military-imposed curfew in Thailand has begun. It will run from 22:00 to 05:00 local time (15:00 to 22:00 GMT).

    The Nation, English language newspaper in Bangkok

    tweets that schools in Thailand have been ordered to close for the next few days


    For the latest tweets and pictures from Thailand, make sure you follow the BBC's Thailand coup list on twitter.


    The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Bangkok says there isn't a heavy military presence on the streets, although they are a lot quieter because of the curfew. The military has instead concentrated on dispersing demonstrators from protest camps.


    We've put together a photo gallery of the most striking pictures from a dramatic day in Thailand.


    The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has expressed "concern" over the military coup but has stopped short of condemning it, as France did. "We urge all sides to put aside their differences, and adhere to the values of democracy and the rule of law," the FCO said in a statement seen by AFP.

    Vaxit Sukarom in Thailand

    emails: We are very happy that finally the Chief of the Army takes action. Almost all educated and well-informed people in Bangkok and all the big cities feel the same. When the military declared martial law, a lot of Bangkok people gave flowers, water and snacks to the soldier at the outpost.

    Bangkok traffic gridlock as curfew begins

    Susanne Iseli captured this image of the traffic gridlock in Bangkok at the junction between Ratchadapisek Road and Sukhumvit Road as the curfew began.

    16:59: Breaking News

    The US Department of Defense says it will "review military assistance and engagements with Thailand" as a result of the military takeover, reports Reuters.

    Worawat Soipradit in Thailand

    tweets: Thailand People want Democracy not coup d'etat.


    The EU has now expressed "extreme concern" at the day's developments. In a statement, it says: "The military must accept and respect the constitutional authority of the civilian power as a basic principle of democratic governance." The EU also called for "credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible".


    The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice for Thailand. It says the curfew, in place now, will not apply to those travelling to or from the airport, providing they are carrying their travel tickets.


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is "seriously concerned" by the takeover. In a statement, Mr Ban called for "a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule and an all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity in Thailand".


    International reaction to the takeover has so far been varied. Only France has condemned it outright - the UK, EU and UN say they are following developments with "concern", and the US says it will review military co-operation with Thailand.

    Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha

    We've written a profile of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand's army chief who announced the coup earlier on Thursday.

    Junction between Ratchadapisek Road and Sukhumvit Road

    Susanne Iseli sent this photo of a junction in central Bangkok which had been jammed with traffic before the curfew.


    We are now bringing to an end our live updates of Thursday's events in Thailand, where the military announced a coup and suspended the constitution after months of political deadlock. You can continue to follow the story on the BBC News website and on our Twitter list.


Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.