Thailand’s army on May 20 declared martial law across the country in order to restore order following months of anti-government protests that have sometimes turned violent.

Announcing the decision on television at 3am (local time), Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that rallies and violence have badly affected national security and public order.

He affirmed the move is not a coup and called on the public not to panic, declaring that the army will maintain peace and order and bring the situation back to normal.

He announced the establishment of a peacekeeping command centre and dissolved the caretaker government's Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order.

Following the martial law, armed soldiers have been deployed to take control of TV stations, power and water factories, as well as demonstrators’ rally sites.

According to Paradon Pattanatabut, chief security adviser to Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, the government was not consulted in advance by the military about the declaration of martial law. He said however, the caretaker government remains in place and everything is normal except that the military is responsible for all national security issues.-VNA