Thailand martial law: Six months of political crisis

Thai soldiers use sand bags to fortify their position in the middle of a main intersection in Bangkok's shopping district on May 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Thai soldiers use sand bags to fortify their position in the middle of a main intersection in Bangkok's shopping district on May 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand's army on Tuesday declared martial law to quell unrest across the deeply divided kingdom which has been shaken by deadly violence since anti-government demonstrations erupted six months ago.

The army said the move was "not a coup" - in a country which has seen 18 actual or attempted military takeovers since 1932.

Here is a timeline of the political crisis which has its roots in the 2006 ouster of tycoon-turned-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who went into self-imposed exile to avoid jail for a corruption conviction.

Oct 31: Protests break out against an amnesty bill which critics said was aimed at allowing Thaksin - whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra is now in power - to return home without going to jail for a corruption conviction.

Nov 1: The lower house of parliament, which is dominated by the ruling party, votes in favour of the bill.

Nov 11: Amid growing outrage on the streets, the upper house overwhelmingly rejects the legislation.

Nov 25: Opposition supporters march on state buildings, eventually occupying several ministries.

Nov 30: Opposition demonstrators attack a bus carrying government supporters. Several people are killed and dozens wounded in street violence.

Dec 8: Opposition lawmakers resign en masse from parliament.

Dec 9: Yingluck calls early elections. Opposition later announces boycott.

Dec 22: Protesters stage massive anti-government rally in Bangkok.

Dec 26: The government rejects a call from the Election Commission to postpone the ballot after violent clashes.

Dec 27: The army chief refuses to rule out a coup, saying "anything can happen".

Dec 28: An unknown gunman kills one protester and wounds several others - the start of a series of drive-by shootings targeting demonstrators.

Jan 13: Tens of thousands of protesters occupy major streets in an attempt to "shut down" Bangkok.

Jan 16: Anti-corruption authorities probe possible negligence of duty by Yingluck over a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

Jan 17: A grenade leaves one dead and dozens wounded at an opposition march, the first of several blasts targeting the rallies.

Jan 21: Government declares a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

Jan 26: A protest leader is shot dead while giving a speech, as fellow demonstrators disrupt advance voting for the election.

Feb 2: Demonstrators prevent 10,000 polling stations from opening for the election, affecting several million people.

Feb 11: The election commission says election re-runs will be held on April 27 in constituencies where voting was obstructed.

Feb 14: Thousands of riot police are deployed in Bangkok to reclaim government buildings surrounded by demonstrators.

Feb 19: Court bans use of force against protesters, a day after five are killed in clashes during a police operation to dislodge them.

March 1: Demonstrators lift blockade of Bangkok.

March 18: State of emergency lifted in Bangkok.

March 21: Constitutional Court annuls February elections.

April 30: Government announces new elections for July 20.

May 7: Constitutional Court removes Yingluck and several cabinet ministers from office.

New caretaker premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan appointed by remainder of cabinet.

May 9: Protestors call for the Senate to aid their bid to topple the government.

May 10: Pro-government protestors warn of "civil war" if an unelected leadership takes over the reins of power.

May 15: The Election Commission says a general election scheduled for July 20 is "no longer possible" as polls cannot be held without the support of the protesters.

Army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha warns his troops "may use force" to quell political violence after three people are killed in an attack on anti-government protestors in Bangkok.

May 20: Army declares martial law, stresses the move "is not a coup" and that there is no need for public panic.