Thailand's military has hosted ground-breaking talks between warring political rivals after imposing martial law to prevent the deeply divided kingdom degenerating into another "Ukraine or Egypt".
Thailand's army declared martial law nationwide on Tuesday to restore order after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government, but insisted the surprise intervention was not a military coup.
Thailand seems to have become accustomed to the sight of soldiers marching on the street. Most passers-by barely blinked as troops and jeeps mounted with machine guns took to the streets on Tuesday. A few clicked selfies with the armed soldiers.
Thailand's army declared martial law before dawn today in a surprise announcement it said was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway.
Bangkok's Government House, the seat of power in the heart of the Thai capital, has stood empty for six months, except for the troops guarding it from protesters who want to oust the administration and overhaul Thailand's democracy.
Thai protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban today set 27 May as deadline to oust the government and said he would surrender to the authorities if he did not succeed
"It must come to an end. Whether it will be a happy ending depends on the great mass of people in this country and our state officials."
The attack brings the nationwide toll since protests began last November to 27 dead and 800 wounded.
Senator Wanchai Sornsiri urged acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai to contact Thaksin Shinawatra.
Six months of anti-government protests have brought sporadic violence to the streets of Bangkok, threatened to tip the economy into recession and even raised fears of civil war.
"We are here to show that we don't agree with the anti-government protesters' mission to install their own unelected prime minister," Thanawut Wichaidit, a spokesman for pro-government activists known as red shirts, told Reuters.
The 7-0 verdict means she faces a vote by the Senate that could lead to impeachment and end her political career for five years.
The campaign against Yingluck has been the latest chapter in Thailand's political upheaval that began when her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a 2006 military coup
Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra defended herself on Tuesday against abuse of power allegations in a crucial court case that is one of several legal challenges which could remove her from office.
The 2 February polls, called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an unsuccessful attempt to ease a months-old political crisis, have not yet been completed because of disruption by demonstrators.
In Thailand the continuing political crisis between the red shirts and yellow shirts is really about two different visions for the country, and a rural population that has found a sense of upward mobility.
The protests have already taken a toll on the economy, on tourism in particular, with arrivals in Bangkok sharply down.
Thai police detained and removed about 100 anti-government protesters who were camped out near a government ministry in Bangkok on Tuesday in a major effort to push back demonstrators who have occupied key sites around the capital.
Anti-government protesters in Thailand vowed Monday to stage larger rallies in central Bangkok and push ahead with efforts to nullify an election they disrupted, preventing millions of people from voting.