Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha, right, speaks as navy Chief Adm. Narong Pipatthanasant, left, looks on during a May 20 meeting with high ranking officials at the army club after declaring martial law in Bangkok, Thailand. (Apichart Weerawong / AP)
WASHINGTON — The United States says the Thai military’s declaration of martial law is allowed by the nation’s constitution and its actions to date won’t trigger sanctions.
The military acted Tuesday after six months of political protests, citing a 100-year-old law giving it the authority to intervene during crises. It declared it was not launching a coup but took quick steps to censor news and social media, drawing criticism from rights groups.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. expects the Thai military to abide by its commitment that martial law is a temporary step to prevent violence and it will respect democratic institutions.
She said the U.S. continues to watch the situation closely.
Following Thailand’s last military coup in 2006, the U.S. froze military assistance to Bangkok for a year-and-a-half.