The Thai military announced this morning that it was intervening to impose martial law throughout the country but insisting that its actions did not represent a coup. The statement, signed by the army chief, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, referred to a 1914 law that, it said, gave the military the right to intervene during times of crisis.

In a prescient opinion piece published just hours before the army's announcement, the Post's contributing editor, Atiya Achakulwisut, argued that martial law was likely to be imposed in the current circumstances, with no progress towards settlement of Thailand's long-running political crisis.

Most interestingly, she argued that there were some attractions in a military intervention for both sides of the political confrontation. For the People's Democratic Reform Committee, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, martial law could be seen as the first step towards the full-scale military involvement that would benefit their ultimate aim of dismissing the interim government. Conversely, the Red Shirts, despite being likely to oppose the martial law decision, could see the army's actions as likely to reinforce the feelings of their supporters that they are facing continuing opposition from elite-linked groups in the capital.

The opinion piece concludes, surely accurately, that the army's imposition of martial law will not solve Thailand's current problems.

With detailed reactions from the main parties involved in the crisis still some time away, all that can usefully be said at the moment is that the army's decision brings a new complication to an already difficult situation. It will not, in itself, result in an early or easy solution to a fundamental and even existential problem in the nature of Thailand's governance.