Thai democracy movement vows fresh protests after PM snub
October 25 2020 12:08 PM
Pro-democracy protesters hold up the three-finger salute outside Bangkok Remand Prison in Bangkok on
Pro-democracy protesters hold up the three-finger salute outside Bangkok Remand Prison in Bangkok on October 24, 2020, as they urged the release of protest leaders and other activists held at the facility following arrests during the ongoing demonstrations.

AFP/Bangkok

Prominent leaders of Thailand's pro-democracy movement vowed to return to the streets Sunday to protest against Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, after their deadline for him to resign was ignored.
The former military chief who staged the 2014 coup is facing pressure from a student-led movement that has organised massive demonstrations for months calling for his resignation.
They regard his hold on power -- renewed after last year's widely disputed elections -- as illegitimate and on Wednesday gave him three days to step down.
As the deadline for Prayut to resign by 10 pm Saturday came and went, activist Jatupat "Pai" Boonpattararaksa said protesters would turn out in force Sunday at a major Bangkok intersection.
"We hear the answer from the prime minister to our request," Pai told a crowd outside Bangkok's Remand Prison, where protesters had gathered to call for the release of fellow activists.
"Tomorrow as citizens, we will protest against Prayut at Ratchaprasong at 4 pm (0900 GMT)."
Prayut remained resolute Saturday while attending a prayer ceremony for the country at a historic Bangkok temple, saying "all problems can be solved" through compromise.
"The government has real intentions to solve problems as long as it's under the line of laws," he told reporters, adding that he "won't quit".
The movement is largely leaderless though the different groups are united when it comes to their demands for an overhaul to Prayut's government.
Some are also issuing controversial calls for reform to the kingdom's unassailable monarchy, questioning the role of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Thailand -- once a taboo act due to draconian royal defamation laws.
Another group called the People's Movement announced a march to the German Embassy on Monday afternoon -- in apparent defiance of the king, who spends long periods of time in Germany.
The monarch has been back in Thailand for the past week and a half to commemorate a Buddhist holiday and the death of his late father Bhumibol Adulyadej.
He has not commented on the demonstrations, despite tension in Bangkok as protesters grow bolder in their challenge to the royal institution.
But the king has made rare public visits with his supporters waiting outside the palace -- a charm offensive for an army of local and international media.
On Friday, he broke with royal protocol to praise a man who had held up a portrait of the king's parents at a pro-democracy rally.
"Very brave. So good. Thank you," the king told the man, according to footage posted on Facebook.
Following the interaction, that quote trended as a hashtag on Twitter in Thailand.
Also top-trending Sunday morning was the hashtag "25 October mob" -- a sign that protesters were preparing to gather for the rally.
Prayut had initially imposed emergency measures banning gatherings of more than four, but lifted them a week later when they failed to stop tens of thousands showing up to guerrilla demonstrations across the capital.
Scores of activists and protesters have been arrested, with several facing serious charges such as sedition.
Over the weekend, prominent leaders Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, Panupong "Mike" Jadnok, and Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul -- three figures who have consistently called for royal reform -- were denied bail.
Dozens of royalist supporters gathered outside the parliament Sunday afternoon to protest against the students, a day before a special parliamentary session was set to convene for MPs to thrash out ways to reduce tensions.
Thais abroad have also held demonstrations in solidarity with the student movement, with some gathering in Tokyo's Shibuya district Sunday waving the three-finger salute and carrying signs that read "Prayut get out".



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