10/27/2020, 09.58
THAILAND-GERMANY
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Bangkok: democracy protesters call on Berlin to investigate Thai king

Thousands gather in front of the German embassy. They accuse the sovereign of exercising his prerogatives from Bavaria, where he spends most of his time. German authorities: We are examining the activities of the Thai monarch; in case of violations there will be immediate consequences.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered yesterday evening in front of the German embassy asking the Berlin authorities to investigate the activities of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Germany. The monarch, disputed together with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha by young democracy protesters, spends most of his time in Germany.

The move comes as the national Parliament meets in special session to tackle the crisis, which has been shaking the country for over three months. The protest movement wants Prayuth's resignation, the launch of a democratic constitution and to review the role of the sovereign, considered excessive in a constitutional monarchy like Thailand's.

The demonstrators - 5-10 thousand according to press reports - defied police bans and delivered a letter to German diplomats. In it they ask Berlin to verify whether the monarch exercises his prerogatives while he is in his residence in Bavaria. The young demonstrators note that Vajiralongkorn cannot conduct political activity in Germany, as this would be a violation of German sovereignty.

For some time, Berlin has been following the work of the Thai king. Responding to the request of Thai anti-government groups, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said yesterday that his government is examining the situation and that any "illegal" behaviour by Vajiralongkorn will lead to "immediate consequences".

The democratic movement has launched an unprecedented challenge to the monarchy. In addition to reviewing the political role of the king and his financial endowment, the protesters demand that the crime of "lese majesty" be cancelled: the sovereign is a sacred figure in Thailand, and the offenses against him are punished with jail up to 15 years.

Since July, propelled in part also by the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic, public pressure has increased against the power block formed by monarchists and military. The first target of the protests is Prime Minister Prayuth, a former commander-in-chief of the army, who came to power in 2014 in a coup. He has been leading a civilian executive since last year, but his critics accuse him of having approved a tailor-made constitution and of rigging the elections that decreed the formal end of the military junta.

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