Q&A on Thai military coup
What are the roots of the crisis?
The kingdom has been wracked for years by political divisions between mostly rural, working class supporters of now-exiled populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and a royalist urban middle class, southerners and Bangkok-based elite who loathe him.
Thaksin reshaped Thailand's political landscape by wooing voters in the rural north with policies such as cheap universal healthcare and micro-loans.
He clashed with the establishment -- which saw him as a threat to the monarchy -- before he was ousted by the army in a coup in 2006.
Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from office in a controversial court ruling earlier this month, angering her supporters.
"The coup represents in a sense a failure of all the elite to find accommodation with new democratic forces now alive in Thailand," said author and academic David Streckfuss.
Unrest related to nearly seven months of opposition street protests has left 28 people dead, hundreds wounded and caused legislative paralysis.