WASHINGTON, May 20 (KUNA) -- The US on Tuesday said it is monitoring the onset of martial law in Thailand and expects the army there "will respect democratic institutions" and avoid a coup against the caretaker government.
Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has insisted that martial law was necessary but temporary, in order to prevent further clashes between pro and anti-government protesters who used "war weapons" on the streets.
"We remain very concerned about the deepening political crisis in Thailand and urge all parties to respect democratic principles, including respect for freedom of speech," said State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, in a statement posted to the US embassy's website in Bangkok.
"We expect the Army to honor its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions," she added.
Psaki further stressed that "all parties must work together to resolve differences through dialogue and find a way forward," and "the need for elections to determine the will of the Thai people." Speaking to reporters in Washington D.C., she said the Obama Administration has been "in regular communication with the military since the imposition of martial law and are continuing with prescheduled meetings.
"We continue to urge the government ... to refrain from violence and respect human rights," she noted.
Meanwhile, the US-based Human Rights Watch also released a statement on Tuesday, calling for an immediate end to martial law in Thailand.
"Military spokesmen have denied their intervention is a coup, but what else can one call a situation where the army chief has completely seized power from a civilian administration?" asked Brad Adams, the group's Asia Director.
He added that martial law "puts the rights of all Thais in jeopardy." (end) ys.bs