Thousands of Protestors Rally in Bangkok as Thai PM Refuses to Resign

Published October 26th, 2020 - 08:15 GMT
A royalist supporter waves a large Thai national flag in front of police standing guard during a rally outside the German embassy to show support for the Thai royal establishment in Bangkok on October 26, 2020. Jack TAYLOR / AFP
A royalist supporter waves a large Thai national flag in front of police standing guard during a rally outside the German embassy to show support for the Thai royal establishment in Bangkok on October 26, 2020. Jack TAYLOR / AFP
Highlights
They say constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic and want to reform monarchy.

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have gathered in Thailand's capital, seeking to keep up pressure on the government a day ahead of a special session of Parliament aimed at easing political tensions.

The rally took place at the busy Rajprasong intersection, in the heart of Bangkok's shopping district, on Sunday with protester numbers swelling to several thousand after a few hours. 

The rally was called on Saturday night after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ignored the protesters' deadline to step down, with core demands including a more democratic constitution and reforms to the monarchy. 

Demonstrators say Mr Prayuth, who led a coup in 2014 as the army chief, was returned to power unfairly in last year's general election because laws had been changed to favour a pro-military party.

They also say the constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic.

Mr Prayuth's government called a Parliamentary session last week, expected to last two days, to try to defuse weeks of almost daily protests.


He said: 'The only way to a lasting solution for all sides that is fair for those on the streets as well as for the many millions who choose not to go on the streets is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process.'

Mr Prayuth also lifted a state of emergency that he had imposed a week earlier that made the protest rallies illegal, however protesters declared the efforts to appease them insincere. 

Protesters took to social media to say that the points of discussion up for debate by the government didn't deal with their concerns but were disguised criticisms of the protests themselves.  

These concern the risk of coronavirus spreading at rallies, the alleged interference with a royal motorcade by a small crowd earlier this month, and illegal gatherings and the destruction of images of the royal family.

Protest organisers have called for a Monday afternoon march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, far from the Parliament complex on the outskirts of the city.

The reason for the march is to bring attention to the protesters' anger that King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends a lot of his time in Germany.

Protesters' criticism of the royal institution has annoyed conservative Thais because the monarchy has traditionally been highly valued.

Self-proclaimed 'defenders of the monarchy' rallied in several cities last week after mobilising online, in many cases led by local civil servants.

On Wednesday, a small royalist rally in Bangkok broke into violence when a few attendees attacked anti-government student activists.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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