Asian political body voices concern over Thai crisis
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- An international body representing political parties of Asia expressed concern Wednesday over the Thai military's declaration of martial law this week, saying the move should not undermine efforts for a democratic and peaceful solution to the country's political crisis.
The International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), which was launched in 2000 to promote exchanges and cooperation between political parties in different Asian countries, made the remark in a statement issued shortly after Thailand's military chief declared martial law on Tuesday, citing a 1914 law authorizing intervention during crises.
Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha claimed the military would bring back peace and order to the nation as soon as possible, but critics have denounced the move as a de facto coup.
"We sincerely hope this is merely a stop-gap arrangement for a brief 'cooling-off' period before a firm date is announced for free and fair elections in Thailand in which all Thai people can fully participate without any hindrance," the ICAPP Standing Committee said in a statement.
"We feel it imperative that, under any circumstances, Martial Law should not be allowed to undermine efforts for democratic and peaceful solution through dialogue among all stakeholders."
The ICAPP Standing Committee comprises leading political parties from 22 countries representing different sub-regions of Asia. The organization's secretariat is based in Seoul.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the U.S. is "monitoring developments closely."
"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," she said Tuesday.
Other nations, including Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, also issued statements expressing concern over the recent developments in Thailand.
"Japan again strongly encourages all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence and hope that the situation will be settled peacefully through democratic process and sincere dialogue among Thai people," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference in Tokyo Tuesday.