Thai army declares martial law
Thai soldiers use sand bags to fortify their position in the middle of a main intersection in Bangkok's shopping districtReuters

The Royal Thai Army has declared martial law across the protests-crippled country in order to restore peace and order but insisted the move is not a coup.

The imposition of martial law has come following months of unrest in Thailand which has completely paralysed the government.

The interim government, which was trying hard to cling to power, has said it has not been consulted over the order.

A televised military statement said: "The public do not need to panic but can live their lives as normal."

Martial law grants the powerful military sweeping powers, including media censorship. Under the law, the military will be responsible for the security of the country, but other tasks will be run by the government unlike in a coup.

Thailand has witnessed 18 coups in the last 80 years, one of which ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

"It looks like he [General Prayuth Chan-ocha] may have decided to do this without consulting the government, since his first order was to dissolve the CAPO which was jointly run by the government and police," said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University, according to the Bangkok Post.

"I think Gen Prayuth is trying to neutralise the confrontation between the PDRC and elements of the pro-government groups who have threatened to fight back if Suthep's group [opposition] capture some of the ministries."

Thailand has been plunged into a deep crisis for the last six months as anti-government protesters are continually rallying in the streets. At least 28 people have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured in the unrest.

Martial Law Elements

Here is a key list of actions martial law allows the army to take.

*crack down on war or riots

*use arms to quell unrest

*censor information

*prohibit public gatherings, publications, and broadcasting.

*judge the cases before the military court

The martial law can only be scrapped by a royal decree. Here is a detailed version of the martial law.