10/22/2020, 09.16
THAILAND
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Bangkok democracy demonstrators warn of greater protests unless premier steps down

Anti-government organizations are also calling for a new constitution and reform of the monarchy.  The prime minister seeks a solution and withdraws the recent decree banning public protests.  A special session of Parliament is called.  The country is in economic crisis: GDP estimated at -7.1% this year.

 

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The young democracy demonstrators last night delievered an ultimatum to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha: resignation within three days, new Constitution and reform of the monarchy, otherwise the "people will return [to demonstrate] with more major requests".  The demand was posted on the Facebook page of Free Youth, a leading anti-government organization.

The demonstrators, mostly university and high school students, rejected the openings of the prime minister, who today withdrew the emergency decree imposed on October 15;  it prohibited public gatherings of more than four people.  The measure also prohibited the publication of news that could cause "fear" or threaten national security.  The government justified the ban with the need to maintain "peace and order" in Thailand.

According to the authorities, the demonstrations are damaging the economy and risk favoring the spread of Covid-19.  To find a solution to the crisis, and with the "blessing" of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Parliament will meet on 26 and 27 October in a special session.  The economic community is asking for interventions to revive the country, which has entered recession: estimates give the national GDP at -7.1% this year.

Last night, thousands of people challenged government bans again;  after removing the barricades and the barbed wire mounted by the police in the center of the capital, they reached the official residence of Prayuth.

Since July, also fueled by the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic, public pressure has increased against the premier, the former commander-in-chief of the army, who came to power in 2014 with a coup.  He has led a civilian executive since last year, but his critics accuse him of having approved a tailor-made constitution and rigging the elections that decreed the formal end of the military junta.

The democratic movement also launched an unprecedented challenge to the monarchy.  It wants to review the political role of the king and his economic endowment.  Protesters also demand that the crime of "lese majesty" be canceled: the sovereign is a sacred figure in Thailand, and offenses against him are punished with up to 15 years in prison.

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