But what is the scope of the military's powers? And what are the implications of the move for a nation that has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932? Herewith the main points of the act:
-- The Martial Law Act 1914 gives the army "superior power" over civilian institutions in regard to maintaining public order and security.
-- The army can ban any assembly or meeting and prohibit public movement by land, air or water.
-- Military authorities have the power to censor or shut down newspapers and broadcasters.
-- Soldiers are given full powers to search, requisition, ban, seize, inhabit or destroy "any place". This includes body searches as well as vehicle, home and building inspections and scrutiny of printed material.
-- Army authorities can enlist people to work to help the military and can requisition vehicles, food, tools and weapons from any person or company at any time.
-- The military can impose curfews and prohibit access to certain areas.
-- Authorities can detain anyone it suspects of breaching martial law for up to seven days.
-- Civilian courts remain operational, but a martial court can be given authority to hear criminal trials in cases committed under martial law. It can continue to hear cases even after martial law has been revoked.
AFP / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul :Thailand has been gripped for months by anti-government protests