Thai premier Somchai Wongsawat replaced the national police chief Friday amid a mounting stand-off with protesters occupying Bangkok's airports, an official order from the prime minister said.
The statement did not give a reason for the dismissal of Police General Patcharawat Wongsuwan saying only that the country's top policeman had been "ordered... to move to the prime minister's office."
"The prime minister appointed Police Major General Prateep Tanprasert, the inspector general, as acting national police chief," it said, following days of demonstrations that have blocked all air traffic to the capital.
But a government spokesman said it was because of Patcharawat's handling of the crisis.
"The transfer is because of suitability and in line with the situation. The prime minister considered how he (Patcharawat) handled the current situation," government spokesman Nattawut Saikuar said on local Thai television.
"There were many reasons taken into consideration."