Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the acting prime minister, has dissolved the Senate, the only remaining legislative body, and is set to assume legislative power, according to an order issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) last night.
The order said matters that are needed to be approved by the Senate or the House of Representatives will now be under the NCPO chief.
The dissolution of the Senate could pave the way for the appointment of a national legislative assembly to act as Parliament and draft a new constitution. The disbanding of the Senate ended speculation that the Upper House might appoint the next prime minister.
Prayuth told diplomats at Friday's meeting that he would set up the assembly together with a reform council. The drafting of the charter would be carried out simultaneously with a national reform blueprint.
In a related development, the NCPO also ordered the removal of national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew, Department of Special Investigation director-general Tarit Pengdit, and Defence Ministry permanent secretary Nipat Thonglek from their positions. They will be transferred to the PM's Office.
Earlier yesterday, hundreds of protesters staged noisy and prolonged anti-coup protests at different locations in Bangkok.
About 100 protesters began gathering in front of Major Ratchayothin Theatre on Phaholyothin Road, north of Bangkok. Soldiers were dispatched to prevent them from marching to the 11th Infantry Division.
Police then asked the protesters to submit a written petition to them and promised to hand it over to the military junta.
By 10.50am, more protesters had gathered, holding anti-coup placards and seeking elections.
Police tried to reduce the tension when protesters confronted soldiers. But their warnings over a loud speaker that they were violating the junta's order barring the assembly of five or more people for a political purpose was in vain. The protesters eventually decided not to proceed to the 11th Infantry and the soldiers withdrew. The protesters later moved to Victory Monument.
A small group of protesters gathered at the Bangkok Art and Culture Hall yesterday afternoon to protest against the coup, watched by armed soldiers.