- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

BANGKOK (AP) - After six months of political deadlock, protests and deadly violence, Thailand’s military seized power in a coup and scrapped the constitution on Thursday. It was the country’s second coup in eight years and 12th since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. Here’s a summary of events and a guide to understanding what is happening.

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HOW IS THE COUP PLAYING OUT?

Most of Thailand has been calm, and little if any military presence has been seen on the streets of Bangkok. Hundreds of anti-coup activists, however, have held protests in central Bangkok, defying the military’s ban on large gatherings. Troops dispersed demonstrators on Friday evening, detaining at least two people.


Protesters returned Saturday, and attempted to make their way to Victory Monument, a major Bangkok landmark. They briefly confronted rows of soldiers and police who were lined up with riot shields on a road leading to the monument, with a few scuffles breaking out before most of the protesters broke away. They were later seen streaming onto the city’s Skytrain elevated transit system, apparently riding over police lines to the monument.

By late afternoon, about 500 demonstrators had gathered at Victory Monument. Army and police presence was low key, and the groups dispersed before a 10 p.m. curfew came into effect.

Restrictions on TV broadcasts and on posting inflammatory comments on social media remained in effect, and many Thais were reluctant to comment publicly on the coup.

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KEY FIGURES DETAINED

The coup leaders have summoned former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Cabinet members and anti-government protest leaders and said Saturday that they would be detained for up to a week to give them “time to think” and to keep the country calm.

The army said the detainees were being well-treated and that the aim of the military was to achieve a political compromise.

The military also summoned 35 other people, including more politicians, political activists and, for the first time, outspoken academics and journalists, to “maintain peace and order.” One of those on the list, Kyoto University professor of Southeast Asian studies Pavin Chachavalpongpun, said he would not turn himself in.

“The military claiming to be a mediator in the Thai conflict, that is all just nonsense,” Chachavalpongpun said from Japan. “This is not about paving the way for reform and democratization. We are really going back to the crudest form of authoritarianism.”

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