In Washington, the Obama administration said the Thai military’s declaration of martial law is allowed by the nation’s constitution and won’t trigger sanctions.
However, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. expected the army “to honor its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions.”
Prayuth said rival protesters could remain at their respective rally sites as long as they remain peaceful and stop marching.
The leader of the pro-government Red Shirt movement, Jatuporn Prompan, said his group could accept martial law, but wouldn’t tolerate a coup.
“We will see what the army wants,” he said, warning that the undemocratic removal of the country’s caretaker government “will never solve the country’s crisis and will plunge Thailand deeper into trouble.”
Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker and video journalists Kiko Rosario and Raul Gallego Abellan in Bangkok and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.